According to news sources, the sole function of the Inva-Academy (Studio) is to educate physically handicapped children who have lived through the ravages of last summer's war and to offer a safe and creative outlet for their feelings and very specific talents. Their works have been shown in many exhibitions both throughout Russia and abroad. In addition, as a gesture of good faith, the teacher of the Academy will bring four icons painted by their students as gifts to the parishioners of some of the churches in South Ossetia that were destroyed during last year’s conflict.
Dima Barsov, one of the 300 members of Inva Studio who has been almost totally paralyzed since early childhood discovered about two years ago that despite his disability and the fact that only part of his right arm works, he had a real talent for drawing icons. In his own words:
“Faith is the basis for many things, and icons are reflections of what's in our souls.”
Dima Barsov's works also include copies of famous drawings and the great Italian master, Leonardo da Vinci, has inspired some of his latest works. Although this young Russian artist and many of his friends at the Inva Studio may never be able to fully enjoy all the beauty the outside world has to offer, they can at least share the light of their artistic visions to all who may care to look upon them.
The chairperson of the Inva Studio is the tireless Lyudmila Rysukhina. She is proud of this new center and feels it provides a healthy way for students to change their attitudes, find new friends, and create something that gives new meaning to their lives. In her own words:
“Every person with a disability has got to have hope, and when one starts painting icons, one usually creates miracles.”
Many of the early drawings depicted Georgian tanks on the city's streets with Russian soldiers coming to the rescue. Some of the works are funny and playful and very religious, like the icons. The icons made by these children received an official blessing from the late Russian Patriarch Alexy II.
All of the paintings in this wonderful center reflect the dreams and hopes of otherwise forgotten children who beg to be noticed, understood and appreciated.
Long live the Inva Studio and all it stands for.