Female Corporeality and Religion 2023

Online Art Exhibition


Mother's Prayer

Zinaida Kosytska

Papercutting ("Vytynanka")


30 x 40 cm




*the full price of this artwork goes to our charity aim


In the Gospels, we find very few stories about Mary, the mother of Jesus. Scripture does not mention the moments of her life when Christ was laid in the tomb and the "emptiness of her existence" began until the first news that her son has risen. Watching the burial of her son, did she not feel the numbness and pain of her own body, experiencing the ancient sorrow of her kinswomen, of which the prophet said: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel is weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more" (Matthew 2:18).

In this work, the author attempts to convey the sorrow of the mother, her pain, humiliation, and great hope during the moments of prayer for her child when the "fruit of Her womb" experienced the terror of death. In Ukrainian folk and literary poetry, one encounters the image of a mother-bird struggling over her dead fledglings, enveloping them with her wings: a seagull on a trodden road that has lost her fledglings. A mother's prayer can also wrap around her children when they are in dire need of support. Then the mother asks God to strengthen her child and herself so that they can endure any trials. The tears that drip from the wings during prayer demonstrate the mood and determination of the afflicted mother’s heart. They contain and express her words, her care, her protection, and her love.

The strength of love and trust in God that Mary, the Theotokos, had now gives strength to Ukrainian mothers to weep over their fallen son-warriors in the hope of meeting them at least in their dreams, memories, tearful prayers... until, which for many of them is the ultimate hope, they meet them again in the Heavenly Kingdom.


Zinaida Kosytska

Zinaida Kosytska (b. 1958) is a Ukrainian artist specializing in paper cutting. She has held numerous paper cutting exhibitions since 1990. She holds a Ph.D. in Art Studies and is a research fellow at the M. Rylskyi Institute of Art Studies, Folkloristics, and Ethnology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She is a researcher of Ukrainian decorative arts, particularly paper cutting art pieces. She is the author of the monograph “The History of Ukrainian Paper Cutting Art Pieces” (Kyiv, 2019) and of numerous academic articles as well as publications intended for a broader audience, both in Ukrainian and foreign outlets. She regularly delivers lectures on the development of paper cutting art pieces in Ukraine and abroad. Kosytska has also illustrated five editions, including her own children's book "Heaven and Us" (Bible stories for children; Kyiv, 2008).

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