Creative Horizons

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In Spring 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced universities and colleges to cancel public programming or to hold virtual events. It also gave fresh impetus to ongoing discussions at The Institute for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (IREES) on how to better inform the US public about culture, identity and politics in Russia, Eastern Europe and Eurasia. As was the case with various citizen-diplomacy initiatives of the late 1980s, including the "space bridges," constraints on physical travel can open new pathways of meaningful interaction and learning across borders. 

Creative Horizons is a collaboration between The Institute for Russian, European and Eurasian Studies (IREES), the Melikian Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at Arizona State University, and the Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Ohio. Alongside support for faculty and students at their respective universities, all three units share a commitment to promoting greater understanding of Russia and the surrounding region. Building on separate experiments in virtual programming since Spring 2020, this joint venture will give audiences in Florida, Arizona, Ohio and beyond the opportunity to hear from working artists in the region as they discuss their methods, perspectives and aspirations. 

The series features videos produced collaboratively by the featured artists and videographer Ari Gajraj. The videos are  followed by online discussions featuring the artist and moderated by regional specialists from USF, ASU, or Miami University.

past EVENTs:

BUT THE SUN CAME UP AND WE WERE HERE (A DANCE BY CHOREOGRAPHER COLLEEN THOMAS) in partnership with Barnard College Department of Dance, Reid Hall, and the USF School of Theatre and Dance

In 2019, a dance by choreographer Colleen Thomas delved into the embodied experience of self, perception and connection in a climate of heightened political and social unrest. With its international cast – including dancers from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and the U.S. –"But the sun came up and we were here" asked if the expression of our individual essence, intuition and power could be the antidote to division in a fractured world.

A Q&A featuring UKRAINIAN ARTISTS who are generating extraordinary work during this difficult time of war.  

Ukrainian Writer Who Escaped the Bombs: Kateryna Babkina Tells Her Story
Kateryna Babkina is a Ukrainian writer and previous Havighurst guest through our Creative Horizons collaborative, told her story of fleeing from Kyiv to the Polish border with her mother and 1-year old daughter as Russia began to bomb Ukraine.

Kateryna Babkina is a Ukrainian poet, prose writer, columnist, screenwriter, and playwright. She's the author of four poetry collections ( Lights of Saint Elm, 2002, The Mustard , 2011, Painkillers and Sleeping pills , 2014, Charmed for Love , 2017), a novel ( Sonia , 2013), a novel in short stories ( My Grandfather Used To Dance Better Than Anyone Else, 2019) and two collections of stories ( Lilu After You , 2008 and Happy Naked People , 2016). She has also written 3 books for kids ( The Pumpkin Year , The Hat and The Whale , and Girls Power (co-authored with Mark Livin), which are extremely popular in Ukraine. Visit her at

Ermina Takenova is an animator, director and illustrator who hails from Almaty, Kazakhstan. She received her MA in animation from the Royal College of Art in London in 2016. She works as a motion designer at Miri Growth, a marketing and advertising firm.

Szabolcs KissPál is an Hungarian artist based in Budapest. His work engages with the social and political circumstances in which he lives and the role of the artist in society, particularly in the post-communist world. KissPál's recent works question not only the legacy of Communism but also the legacy of the recent failures of capitalism. Like many artists in former eastern Europe his work displays some ambivalence about the current situation as well as hope for a more structured and controlled continuing emancipation. KissPál works with photography, moving image and sculpture.

Vladimir Tsesler is one of the most famous Belarusian artists. He is a designer and creator of art objects with about 40 international awards in the field of poster, book and advertising. His works have gained worldwide fame and are stored in the collections of many museums including The Musée de la Publicité, a museum of advertising history located in the Louvre's Rohan and Marsan wings. Mr. Tsesler uses ridicule, humor and even sarcasm in his art work.

Victoria Lomasko is a a muralist and graphic reporter, whose 2017 book, Other Russias, attracted widespread reviews and attention, including coverage in The New Yorker, the LA Review of Books, and The Calvert Journal. Other Russias also won the 2018 Pushkin House Prize for the best book in translation. In 2019, Vika visited the Melikian Center and the Havighurst Center, where she created the mural Atlases for the King library. In September 2020, Victoria Lomasko spent time in Minsk, Belarus, covering the extended civic activism protesting the rigged August election results.