Stand With Ukraine posters. (Courtesy Olga Severina).

Stand With Ukraine, an exhibition of 60 posters all designed by socially-conscious artists, is on display at Aftercar through July 4.

Aftercar, an innovative concept founded by Ryan Gravel, is located on the ground floor of the Telephone Factory Lofts on the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. This members-only venue offers a casual work environment, private event rentals, and future plans to include food and beverage service. 

Today, dozens of colorful and evocative posters are strung up in the Aftercar space. Organized by The 4th Block Association in Ukraine and curated by Olga Severina, a Ukrainian-born designer and lecturer currently residing in Los Angeles, Stand With Ukraine is a fervent gesture of resistance to the war through the lens of design and typography. 

Severina is the founder of PosterTerritory, a multimedia platform that launches socially-conscious poster exhibits and graphic design campaigns for a variety of causes. “I created this project because I believe that a great poster has the power to change the world,” said Severina. Other exhibitions by PosterTerritory highlight issues such as the peaceful co-existence of humans and nature, diversity, and imagining a post-Covid world. 

Of all of the causes that Severina has highlighted with PosterTerritory exhibitions, the Stand With Ukraine collection is the most important and, for Severina, certainly the most personal. 

“We all need to speak up,” Severina insisted. “My goal is to show this art in as many venues as I can and to as many people as possible. I want people to connect. I do not want them to feel that this war is somewhere far away and therefore does not affect them directly. Killing of the innocents affects all of us.”

The works on display at Stand With Ukraine feature images of sympathy, of terror, of irreverance, and of hope. In a foreboding twist, Severina actually began the call for artists for this exhibition ten days before the invasion of Ukraine.

“We knew in some way that something would happen,” she told me. There were talks of potential conflict with Russia in the days leading up to the initial attacks. Her hometown, the city of Kharkiv, is located only 15 miles from the Russian border and until recently hosted 1.5 million citizens. The city is still being bombed and attacked every day. Missiles fly, bombs drop, civilians are called upon to defend their communities and protect the innocent lives of those who call Ukraine home.

“I do what I can to speak out against this brutal and senseless war, unthinkable in the 21 century,” Severina explained. “I wanted to give these posters a voice because I’ve always believed that great art can be the agent of real change.”

“Today, the people of Ukraine need a voice. It needs many voices and these posters speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. We cannot stay quiet and let the atrocities continue. I want to speak out. And I want to help.”

In addition to operating PosterTerritory, Severina is also a Design Director at Brand Culture, a prominent branding agency in Los Angeles, as well as Atlanta and Barcelona.  To learn more about Severina and PosterTerritory, go to her website.

Isadora Pennington is a freelance writer and photographer based in Atlanta. She is the editor of Sketchbook by Rough Draft, a weekly Arts newsletter.