This resilient Ukrainian city may just have the most beautiful murals in Europe.

What do you envision when you think of Kiev?

For many in the West, the Ukraine's capital city — plastered on front pages and scrolling across news tickers in recent years — has become synonymous with political turmoil. And there's certainly some truth in that.

But if you've only read gripping headlines, you've missed out on half the story.


"Protectress," by Mata Ruda, depicting a goddess surrounded by sunflowers — the national flower of Ukraine. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

Sprinkled across Kiev's towering structures, powerful displays of beauty have transformed the Ukrainian metropolis.

"Boy With Darts," by Sacha Korban. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

Ever since widespread protests against government corruption sparked change about two years ago, many in Kiev have turned to art.

Mural by artist Okuda. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

Murals have exploded throughout the city, turning the country's political anxieties into expressions of hope and strength.

This mural by artist Nunca blends Brazilian and Ukrainian cultures to create a single subject. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

Both international artists and locals have brightened Kiev's weathered brick homes and businesses into wondrous works.

 The results are nothing short of stunning.

Mural by Alexander Britz. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

The murals began cropping up largely after the Euromaidan protests in February 2014.

Angered by mass corruption and governmental mismanagement, anti-Russia protesters shook the political status quo of Ukraine, which was formerly part of the Soviet Union. Deadly riots and a national call to action culminated in the toppling of then-President Viktor Yanukovych, as well as an overhaul of much of the country's political system.

It was a grueling time for Ukrainians — and that instability has lingered into 2016 — but the unrest also spurred a burst of creative expression that has breathed new artistic life into the streets of Kiev.

Many of the murals are either subtly or overtly political, like Fintan Magee's "The Dreamer."

"The Dreamer" by Fintan Magee. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

The artwork features Ukrainian gymnast Hanna Rizatdinova, who's originally from Crimea — a region that was forcibly (and controversially) annexed by Russia.

"I could not understand why," Rizatdinova said of the annexation. "How can the Cri­mea be Russia? How can our Simferopol school train under a Rus­sian flag? I was outraged."

Others are motivated by pure delight, like Sasha Korban's "Elephant Dream."

"Elephant Dream" by Sasha Korban. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

Because what's more delightful than an elephant carrying colorful balloons?

But every work of art tells a unique story.

"Renaissance" by artists Seth Globepainter and Kislow. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

And each unique story should be heard.

"The Rebuild" by Australian artist Fintan Magee, who said the subject for the piece was a Ukrainian friend, Kateryna. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

"The River Crossing" by Fintan Magee. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

"The Visionary" by Fintan Magee. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

As Kiev exemplifies, art often means so much more than pretty pictures.

The healing effects of creating art are well-documented and profound, with many people who've experienced tough times or traumatic experiences — from U.S. veterans to children of war-torn regions — using the medium to cope and grow.

It makes sense that the collective grief of Kiev has blossomed into artistic beauty.

This kaleidoscopic cormorant, by artist Ernesto Maranje, is easily spotted on the drive from the Kiev airport into the city. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

A portrait of Mykhaylo Hrushevsky — a leading figure in the Ukrainian national revival of the early 20th century — by Kailas-V. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

"Swift" by Alex Maksiov features Ukraine's flag in the bird's eye. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

"The Archangel Michael" by Gaia, which symbolizes the conflict in Crimea and Donbas between Ukraine and Russia. Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

If anything's evident in the artwork peppered throughout Kiev, it's the unbelievable strength of a people — even in the darkest of times.

Because even amid unrest and a deep desire for change, it still rings true that home is where the heart is for the people of Ukraine.

This local mural reads "I love Ukraine!" Photo by Amos Chapple/RFE/RL.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less