CHICOPEE — An art exhibition will be hosted at the Chicopee Public Library from Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. to March 28 to support and showcase the art and talents of Valentyna Pyrekova, who has recently come to the United States.

Catholic Charities Agency Refugee Program Coordinator Urszula Wolanska-Fettes had a vision of an art exhibition done by refugee clients for a while and was excited to find someone like Pyrekova to display her work.

Catholic Charities Agency has a program that welcomes refugees from all over the world and offer different tools to help them get on their feet.

The art will be displayed in the Bazan Community Room, 449 Front St.

There will be nearly 40 pieces displayed and music will be provided by Kostiantyn Chernytskyi, a former refugee client who is also a professional musician.
He will be playing piano on opening day.

Entry to the exhibition is free with some of the art being available for purchase.
Wolanska-Fettes said that Pyrekova came to the agency over a year ago from Ukraine in December 2022.

“Her art at the exhibition is named peace and peril. I named it that was because a majority of her pieces are flowers and they do bring the sense of calmness but yet many of them were created either during the conflict or post conflict,” Wolanska-Fettes added.

Pyrekova is currently 85 years old and began to paint after she retired and picked up the hobby with her late husband who also liked to paint.

Wolanska-Fettes said that her goal for the art exhibition was to show people that refugees have a lot more to offer than the perception of people who take jobs and live on government resources.

“They are just as human and beautiful people are we are, and they went through hell,” Wolanska-Fettes said.

She added, “The subject of refugees is a hot topic right now and it’s quite sensitive. I wanted to also showcase that they are people who actually come, and they can give us something. [Pyrekova] is at the retirement age and she is not going to work and give back to society that way, but she can let us admire the beautiful work and contribute on a more spiritual or artistic level.”

Catholic Charities Agency is in Springfield, 65 Elliot St., and Wolanska-Fettes said their refugee programs help a “versatile” clientele with refugees coming from all over the world.

“There is no limit in whom we serve. We provide all the necessary services to make the clients become independent and self sufficient as quickly as possible,” Wolanska-Fettes added.

Catholic Charities Agency offer classes, help refugees find apartments, jobs and help purchase items anyone may need to live.

Chicopee Public Library Director Laura Bovee talked about the upcoming art exhibit that will be coming to the community room for a month.

She said, “The library is happy to offer this outlet and exhibit space to this artist and others and we always look forward to seeing new art gracing the walls of the Bazan Community Room.”

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