When full-fledged war broke out in Ukraine last week as Russian troops stormed the country, outpourings of solidarity with Ukraine circulated on social media. Many people admitted to feeling helpless in how to assist relief efforts for a country whose cities are being bombed and cultural artifacts destroyed, with hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing in a matter of days. The creative community immediately stepped in—Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot, for example, established Ukraine DAO and raised $6.75 million by auctioning an NFT of the Ukrainian flag with proceeds benefiting the Return Alive Foundation and NGO Proliska.
On Instagram, artists and designers began auctioning some of their latest works and donating proceeds to charity. Among the first to announce auctions were Eny Lee Parker, Karl Monies, and Alex Proba, the prolific designer whose multidisciplinary practice encompasses murals, home accessories, and augmented reality. She’s teaming up with Portland art gallery Stephanie Chefas Projects to auction a painting from her current solo exhibition “Gemstone Groceries” in support of Ukrainian war victims and animals. “First and foremost, all my creations are supposed to evoke and spark a positive emotion—and make you feel joy and happiness,” Proba tells Surface. “Hopefully the donation will help humans and animals in this time of extreme hardship and horror.”
In particular, European designers were quick to get involved—and auction pieces bearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The Latvian designer Germans Ermics, known for injecting vibrant color gradients into ethereal glass components that make up tables, shelves, and mirrors, is offering up Blue-Yellow Mirror Beam (2021), a slender collectible that recently debuted at Design Miami/ Basel. “The reason why I’m speaking up is because I deeply care and I am worried,” says Ermics, who resides in Amsterdam and has friends in both Russia and Ukraine. The like-minded designer Sabine Marcelis, who’s based in Rotterdam, auctioned a royal blue version of her famed Candy Cube with proceeds going toward the International Rescue Committee. A blue glazed mirror by Marcelis is also being auctioned by e-commerce platform Rira Objects to support Red Cross Ukraine.
To show support to Ukraine citizens beyond the auctions, we recommend donating to Nova Ukraine, a nonprofit that provides civilians with baby food, hygiene products, and clothes; United Help Ukraine, which distributes food and medical supplies to displaced citizens; and the Kyiv Independent, an English-language newspaper currently reporting crucial news about the situation from on the ground.