Department of Art

A Tale of Beauty and Destruction-Mariupol Photographic Exhibit

Xavier University and the Department of Art, in partnership with the Ukrainian National Women’s League (UNWLA), presents "Mariupol: A Tale of Beauty and Destruction," September 22- October 13, 2023. This evocative exhibition of photography chronicles the story of Mariupol, a city in southeastern Ukraine, that symbolizes the horrors of war.  

The exhibition brings together the work of three talented photographers, offering a powerful and moving portrayal of life before and after the siege of Mariupol. “My Mariupol and The World Around It," a collection by Myroslav Kobylianskyi, who lived in Mariupol for seven years, offers a glimpse of the city's former beauty, capturing its life, dreams, and love. His urban sketches, portraits, and landscapes vividly portray Mariupol the Beautiful.

In contrast, Evgeniy Maloletka and Maksym Chernov, both acclaimed photographers working for the Associated Press and Pulitzer Prize winners, documented the harrowing realities of Mariupol during its bombardment by Russian forces in February and March 2022. Their images reveal the truth behind Russia's claims of targeting only military installations, exposing the suffering of Mariupol's residents. 

Mariupol, nestled on the coast of the Sea of Azov in the Donetsk Oblast, flourished as a major port in Southern Ukraine, with a vibrant cultural scene featuring theaters, museums, and festivals. The city's wide avenues, numerous parks, and the picturesque Sea of Azov and Kalmius River made it a place of beauty and joy for its residents. However, the onset of war in 2022 changed everything. The siege of Mariupol, which began on February 24, 2022, and lasted until May 20, 2022, as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, left over 90% of the city in ruins, and it was illegally annexed by Russia. Today, an estimated 100,000 inhabitants remain, their lives forever altered. Many still remember the bombardment of the Donetsk Regional Drama Theater by Russian forces even though the words “Children” were prominently marked on the pavement by the building.

Visitors are invited to bear witness to the tragedy of Mariupol while honoring the indomitable spirit of its people and the memories of its beauty. The photos capture moments of heartache, bravery, and human connection against the backdrop of devastation, transcending geographical and political divides to reveal our shared humanity. 

Join us for a poignant journey through Mariupol's past and present, as seen through the eyes of these talented photographers. For more information about the exhibition, please contact UNWLA Cincinnati at