ASU honors student authors book celebrating beauty, culture of Ukraine

Camille S. Campbell's 'Colors of Ukraine' based on life of folk artist Maria Prymachenko


Ukrainian flag against a stormy sky.

Stock photo of Ukraine flag

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Arizona State University student Camille S. Campbell believes the beauty and culture of Ukraine should be preserved and shared, even in a time of war.

That’s why she wrote “Colors of Ukraine,” a children’s book based on the life and work of Maria Prymachenko. Born in Ukraine in 1909, Prymachenko was a self-taught folk artist who overcame childhood polio and worked in the naïve art style through the mediums of painting, ceramics and embroidery.

Campbell collaborated on the book with Lilia Martyniuk, a renowned Ukrainian artist who lives in Zaporizhia. Campbell’s mother assisted with translating the book into Ukrainian. 

Portrait of Camille Campbell next to the cover of her book "Colors of Ukraine."
ASU honors student Camille Campbell hopes her book "Colors of Ukraine" helps motivate readers "to follow their dreams and not give up." Courtesy photos

“Colors of Ukraine” is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target and Walmart.

“Museums, cultural centers and theaters are being shelled in an attempt to erase Ukrainian culture,” said Campbell, referring to Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine that began in February 2022.

“I am extraordinarily proud of the bravery of the people in Ukraine and their will to fight the aggressor. Their courage gives inspiration for my words. There is this ache in writing the story because I think of the bomb explosions, people dying and cities being destroyed,” said Campbell, a rising sophomore digital marketing major in the W. P. Carey School of Business and a student in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU.

Campbell said she also took inspiration for the book from family — including her grandfather and his wife — and friends living in Ukraine. She also wanted to do something to help children traumatized by war.

During the war, more than 3,700 schools have been damaged or destroyed, displacing students throughout the country, according to Human Rights Watch.

“After getting involved with activism locally and participating in rallies, I yearned to do more to support children in Ukraine and share the beauty of Ukrainian culture. That's why I wrote 'Colors of Ukraine,' which is published in both English and Ukrainian,” she said.

Campbell hopes to make the book, which is aimed at 6- to 10-year-old readers and elementary educators, an art therapy resource for children affected by war trauma. She is working with Fuminori Tsuchiko, a Japan native who was awarded the title of National Legend of Ukraine for his volunteer work, to bring it to his free café and children’s library in Kharkiv.

“As a writer, I hope to bring a smile to (children's) faces and give them opportunities for creative expression through donating the book to schools and art therapy programs,” she said.

Campbell, who lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, already has shared the book with local children at school-based book-reading and art events. She also had a book signing at Barnes and Noble in May.

Campbell hopes her book inspires and strengthens others.

“My book will help to introduce readers to Ukrainian culture, tell a story about a trailblazing historical female artist, and encourage readers to embrace their own creativity. I hope that readers will feel motivated to follow their dreams and not give up, just as Maria Prymachenko persevered despite facing an illness, disability, war and other tribulations.”

In addition to supporting Ukraine through her book, Campbell has created digital artwork titled “Kaleidoscope of Freedom” that is based on Ukrainian painting techniques and silk art. It shows the Ukrainian flag in the center surrounded by the flags of countries that stand with Ukraine.

“It expresses the message that the people of Ukraine are not alone in the fight for their land and freedom,” said Campbell, who has printed over 5,000 stickers with her art for rallies in Arizona, California and New York.

In addition to “Colors of Ukraine,” Campbell is the author of the Wishner Prophecy series and the recipient of the international Gold Moonbeam Book Award and Purple Dragonfly Book Award. She is the founder and executive director of the nonprofit Rising Poets Community, which aims to help youth express themselves through poetry.

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