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The connecting of two cultures

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  • Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock
    The connecting of two cultures Russian man s pastel murals depict American Indian life September 5, 2004 By TIM McKENZIE of the Peoria Journal Star EDWARDS -
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2004
      The connecting of two cultures

      Russian man's pastel murals depict American Indian life

      September 5, 2004

      of the Peoria Journal Star

      EDWARDS - The rhythmic sound of beating drums and the chants of
      American Indian singers floated over the hills Saturday to where
      Russian artist Leonid Kozintsev stood describing his pastel-colored

      A Russian Orthodox Christian raised in Russia, Kozintsev is not the
      artist one would suspect to be deeply connected with American Indian
      spirituality, but he has developed a rich interest in American Indian

      Growing up in Vladimir, Russia, Kozintsev began developing a
      friendship with Peoria-area Indians after visiting the area as part
      of an artist's show with his hometown's sister city, Bloomington.
      After that visit, he continued to visit Peoria and agreed to paint
      murals at the Seven Circles Heritage Center.

      The murals are part of the Paint A Dream Mural Project. Koszintsev
      painted the murals on the southern side of the center's building, and
      Charley Armstrong oversaw a similar project on its northern side,
      which faces Illinois Route 8.

      The murals drew many admirers Saturday at the third annual Friendship
      Pow Wow at the center on Illinois Route 8 near Wildlife State Prairie
      Park. The powwow, which continues today, celebrates American Indian
      culture through dancing and tribal gatherings.

      As a child in his hometown about 200 kilometers east of Moscow,
      Kozintsev became interested in American culture through reading
      novels by Jack London and James Fennimore Cooper. However, it was not
      until friends took him to a powwow in 1998 that he found the America
      he had read about.

      But his interest quickly grew beyond nostalgia. Kozintsev appreciated
      the spiritual significance of American Indian culture - its emphasis
      on the connection between humans and nature.

      His wife, Lyuba Shur, interpreted for Kozintsev, saying: "We
      Christians think about the soul and human relationships. Indians tell
      us about nature, and you begin to understand the relationship of man
      to nature. You begin to understand spirituality is everywhere."

      The first experience that made him realize the connection was going
      to a sweat lodge, which is depicted in about a 20-foot-long by 8-foot-
      tall mural of acrylic paint.

      The painting shows a fire, which has sacred significance because of
      its similarity to the sun.

      The fire heats the rocks used in the sweat lodge, which is a place of
      prayer. Because the stones are believed to have witnessed the
      creation, they are considered ancestors and called "grandfathers."

      His second mural depicts the "River of Time" and the "Tree of Life."
      The tree's bark is made of souls of ancestors, and the leaves
      represent the living: green leaves for youth, orange for middle-aged
      and yellow for the elder and wiser people.

      So far, Kozintsev has spent 25 days painting the mural. He will
      continue adding details until he is satisfied, he said.

      In addition, he is working on sketches for a third mural that will
      depict the creator overlooking paradise - or the Garden of Eden.

      Visitors can see the mural today at the powwow, which continues with
      a religious service at 10:30 a.m. and American Indian dancing between
      noon and 5 p.m.

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