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Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia

ԵՐԿՐՊԱԳՈՒԹԻՒՆ March 30 - June 13, 2015 John Avakian • Gail Boyajian • Adrienne Der Marderosian Jackie Kazarian • Aida Laleian • Yefkin Megherian • Marsha Odabashian Kevork Mourad • Jessica Sperandio • Apo Torosyan

Kiss the Ground exhibition series, curated by Todd Bartel Works of art © 2015, John Avakian, Gail Boyajian, Adrienne Der Marderosian, Lucine Kasbarian, Jackie Kazarian, Aida Laleian, Yefkin Megherian, Marsha Odabashian, Kevork Mourad, Jessica Sperandio, Apo Torosyan Foreword and catalog essay © 2015 Todd Bartel Edited by Eli Keehn All Photos (except where otherwise noted) © 2015 Todd Bartel Design Todd Bartel © 2015 Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston Printed on demand by Lulu.com All rights reserved Thompson Gallery The Cambridge School of Weston 45 Georgian Road Weston, MA 02493 Cover: Marsha Odabashian, Allegorical Landscape, 2009, gesso, acrylic, wood, 72 x 72 x 10.5 inches

Thompson Gallery 2


Kiss the Ground Gagik Aroutiunian, September 5 - November 15, 2014 Talin Megherian, December 18, 2014 - March 13, 2015 A New Armenia, part 1, December 6, 2014 - January 20, 2015 (Armenian Museum of America) A New Armenia, part 2, January 25 - March 1, 2015 (Armenian Museum of America) A New Armenia, part 3, March 30 - June 13, 2015 Lucine Kasbarian—Perspectives from Exile, May 18 - June 13, 2015 Kiss the Ground is a six-part exhibition series that examines and celebrates contemporary Armenian art, one hundred years after the 1915 Armenian Genocide. ABOUT THE THOMPSON GALLERY The Thompson Gallery is a teaching gallery at The Cambridge School of Weston dedicated to exploring single themes through three separate exhibitions, offering differing vantages on the selected topic. Named in honor of school trustee John Thompson and family, the Gallery promotes opportunities to experience contemporary art by local, national and international artists and periodically showcases the art of faculty, staff and alumni. The Gallery is located within the Garthwaite Center for Science and Art, The Cambridge School of Weston, 45 Georgian Road, Weston, MA 02493. M–F 9–4:30 p.m. and by appointment (school calendar applies). Visit thompsongallery.csw.org to view exhibit art. ABOUT THE CAMBRIDGE SCHOOL OF WESTON The Cambridge School of Weston, located in a Boston suburb, is a progressive, coeducational, day and boarding school for grades 9 through 12 and post graduate. Established in 1886, the school is dedicated to fostering individual strengths and deep, meaningful relationships through a wide range of challenging courses and a variety of teaching styles. csw.org

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The massive trauma inflicted on the collective consciousness of the Armenian people is an open wound, continually aggravated by the refusal to acknowledge its infliction. Donald Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide, 2005

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Foreword & Acknowledgments


The Kiss the Ground exhibition series was unique in a number of ways. It began as a three-part series and evolved into six exhibitions. It inhabited three sites—the Thompson Gallery, the Armenian Museum of America (AMA), and the Red Wall Gallery at the Cambridge School of Weston’s Mugar Center for the Performing Arts. A total of seven catalogs were published for the series. And centrally, it brought many people together in a collaborative spirit regarding the centennial observance of the first genocide of the twentieth century: the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1923. Roger Hagopian, Jackie Kazarian, and Yefkin & Talin Megherian (mother & daughter) discovered that they shared family ties going back to the Armenian city of Marash, a sobering reminder of what happened to diasporan families. Though we may never find out if there were ever connections between their descendant families, we have to wonder if, in some way, the Kiss the Ground exhibition series has unwittingly reunited lost familial friendships. At the very least, the show series represents the union of a resolute group of contemporary artists who are all looking to evolve past the Armenian culture’s complicated history. Although the material exhibited in all these shows and events was dark, disturbing and painful, this series also highlighted the brilliance, the resolution, the constitution, the hope, and ultimately the beauty of vision of the fifteen artists involved: Gagik Aroutiunian, John Avakian, Elliot Baker, Gail Boyajian, Adrienne Der Marderosian, Roger Hagopian, Lucine Kasbarian, Jackie Kazarian, Aida Laleian, Talin Megherian, Yefkin Megherian, Marsha Odabashian, Kevork Mourad, Jessica Sperandio and Apo Torosyan. 8

Over and over again the word “responsive” came to mind throughout the process of pulling together the series and its programming. The energy and momentum of the overall project seemed to have a life and a mind of its own. I cannot take credit for that; it was all I could do to just keep up with it. What Kiss the Ground has become is far beyond anything I could have conjured myself; it took the collaborative energy and ideas of all involved to evolve these shows into something quite special. In the words of John Avakian, who first introduced me to the playwright Elliot Baker, which resulted in the first satellite project: The exhibition Kiss the Ground…is amazing in its depth and breadth of humanity, unlike any other that has dealt with the issues of the Armenian Genocide by visual artists. This unprecedented undertaking, with its informative and beautifully designed catalogs, underlines this exhibition [series] as truly historic in the annals of contemporary Armenian Art and the Armenian Genocide.1 I am so happy for John Avakian’s suggestion to read Elliot Baker’s play The Past Is Not Past. That suggestion, during the early stages of planning these shows, proved to be the catalyst for a truly expansive overall project. I am grateful for Barbara Whitney’s (CSW Drama Department Chair) energy and vision to place theatrical performance in realworld settings, suggesting we involve our students in readings of the play, and then supporting those efforts. I am impressed and inspired by Sophie Landa ‘15, who brought professionalism and personal vision to directing her exceptional cast. I am equally impressed by the dramatic readings of Avery Dove ‘15, Miranda Jacobs ‘15, Sophie Landa ‘15, Zelime Lewis ‘17, Amanda Madigan‘15,


Connor Rooks ‘18, and Kasey Soderberg ‘15, who each brought dignity and deep feeling to their characters. I am very appreciative for Father Vasken Kouzouian’s assistance (Holy Trinity Armenian Apostolic Church, Cambridge, MA), who introduced the Kiss the Ground project to the Armenian Museum of America. I am most grateful for Gary LindSinanian’s expertise and professionalism to help me pull together two exhibitions at AMA. And I am very thankful for textile curator Susan Lind-Sinanian’s assistance with the identification of the Marash-style textiles regarding Jackie Kazarian’s and Roger Hagopian’s respective work. I am grateful to Apo Torosyan, who introduced me to Roger Hagopian, bringing him into the fold. I am grateful to and impressed with Roger Hagopian, who completely remastered his film Memories of Marash for the AMA screening, and who introduced me to several historians who assisted me in finding much needed, quotable resources regarding Armenian history. I would like to thank Linda Bond, who introduced me to the installationbased work of recent Mass Art MFA graduate Jessica Sperandio—an act that clearly launched Sperandio’s artistic career and put our shows on the cutting edge. I am grateful to Marsha Odabashian, who introduced me to the political cartoonist Lucine Kasbarian, which led to the final exhibition in the series, a wonderful lecture, and the final satellite publication. I wish to extend a special thanks to Lucine Kasbarian, whose promotion of our shows led to Kiss the Ground garnering international news coverage and whose editorial suggestions and advice on how to convey the history of the Armenian people have been most welcome and greatly appreciated. All through the process of organizing all these shows, events and publications, Adrienne Der Marderosian supported

Kiss the Ground with helpful suggestions and various connections. I owe her heartfelt thanks and appreciation for her initial suggestions to include many area artists, whom I did not know, and to include artists from the New York and Chicago regions, essentially the germ seed for everything that followed. Adrienne Der Marderosian is an exceptionally articulate and talented artist who has added immeasurably to the Kiss the Ground project, and she deserves the acknowledgement of co-curator in the establishment of the roster of artists for these shows. It has been a deeply meaningful experience to work on the Kiss the Ground project and get to know and work with each of these individuals. To use my skills and privileges to provide a platform for these creative voices has been an honor, but it has also been enlightening and edifying. I am most grateful to each artist and collaborator, as they have altered and enriched the collective futures of all who have come in contact with their insights and creative visions. I am impressed by their generosity and their outstanding work to inform our younger generations. The Cambridge School of Weston’s students and community at large have been afforded an added measure of hope for all they have learned about the Armenian Genocide, contemporary diasporan art, and the myriad ways in which to evolve tragic events into transformative understanding. Todd Bartel Gallery Director, Curator Thompson Gallery ____________________________

1. John Avakian, email correspondence, July 10, 2015

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Der Zor Diary:

Kiss the —Aof New Armenia A Pilgrimage to theGround Killing Fields the Armenian Genocide

ԵՐԿՐՊԱԳՈՒԹԻՒՆ


Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia Go ahead, destroy Armenia. See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.1 William Saroyan The role of art is to make a world which can be inherited.2 William Saroyan The difference between Diaspora Armenians and Armenians from this country [Armenia] is that the Diaspora have a thirst for the homeland. When you live in a house built near a spring, you may know what thirst means, but you will not really feel it.3 Edward Balassanian

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The Armenian National Institute describes what took place one hundred years ago: In April 1915 the Ottoman government embarked upon the systematic decimation of its civilian Armenian population. The persecutions continued with varying intensity until 1923 when the Ottoman Empire ceased to exist and was replaced by the Republic of Turkey. The Armenian population of the Ottoman state was reported at about two million in 1915. An estimated one million had perished by 1918, while hundreds of thousands had become homeless and stateless refugees. By 1923 virtually the entire Armenian population of Anatolian Turkey had disappeared.5

An individual has not started living fully until they can rise above the narrow confines of individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of humanity. Every person must decide at some point, whether they will walk in light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’4 Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The context for A New Armenia traces far back in time, and is one of the world’s oldest ongoing sagas of an enduring people. Contemporary Armenia is a unitary, multi-party, democratic nation-state with an ancient cultural heritage that was established in the 6th century BCE.6 For well over three millennia, however, the Armenian people have occupied territory within the boundaries of several empires, including Persia, Ottoman and Russia—whose borders have been in conflict in recent history—and who governed their subjugated people until August 23, 1990, when Armenia finally achieved its independence from the Soviet Union.

The Kiss the Ground exhibition series was organized to examine the art of a select group of local and national AmericanArmenian artists, whose work addresses issues of loss, identity, memory, place and displacement in light of their ancestral Armenian past. That examination occured during the culturally recognized centennial marker of the Armenian Genocide, April 24, 2015.

The Armenian endonym for the Armenian people and country is hayer and hayk’, respectively.7 The exact etymology of the name is unknown. The name in the Middle Ages was extended to Hayastan, by addition of the Persian suffix -stan (place).8 The suffix –stan is Persian and Urdu for “place of,” or “where one stands,” and is found in the names of seven countries—in most of these titles, the first part of the name refers to an ethnic group that lives in the nation.9


It is ironic that the etomology of Armenia encapsulates the principle impetus for pulling this exhibition together: understanding the places where Armenians stand today. Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia is an exploration of place and displacement which so clearly defines the fabric of Armenian culture. Kiss the Ground Kiss the Ground takes its namesake from the etymology of one of the Armenian words for “worship.”10 The word “yergurbakootyoon” (ԵՐԿՐՊԱԳՈՒԹԻՒՆ) translates literally to mean “kissing the ground,” but figuratively refers to total submission—voluntary or involuntary. A gesture of the body, such as laying face down on the ground, is an act of deep veneration. The Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church points out, “words and thoughts alone cannot express all that we believe,” nor can they express all that the Armenian people have endured, and that is why the gesture requires great effort. Though it is used as a term of worship today, the word is largely disconnected from its initial roots and is not commonly used. The aftereffects of disconnection, and the need for cultural redefinition, are what prompted this exhibition series. As a verbal expression that describes a figurative activity, yergurbakootyoon in the context of this exhibition series signals a metaphorical reference for an expression of hallowed respect and connection. The particular action conjures many images, thoughts and associations that go beyond its original usage. Spoken in English on American soil, “kissing the ground” brings to mind reverence for land, for home, for country, for people, and for a way of living, particularly for the generations of Armenians living in exile. It is an act of great dedication to connect to a difficult past and build an uncertain future.11

Imagine being on a journey that has thus far lasted a century, and yet there is no end in sight; you cannot rest and must keep moving. Along your way, keep in mind that it took at least two generations preceding you to bring you to where you now stand. And never forget, wherever you go, that the generations that lived before your journey was made necessary died at the hands of another. To appreciate the depth of the context of your single journey, you must also keep in mind that your journey is but one of the stories of more than 1.5 million other individuals whose lives were lost, and those families’ stories are like your own. And you are reminded daily as you move through time and space that the authority that governs the area that was once home to your ancestors denies that their story ever happened. To imagine this journey is to establish the frame of reference necessary for untangling the complex reality that informs the work of the artists here exhibited in Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia. In the first Kiss the Ground exhibition, the work of Gagik Aroutiunian (figs. 1 and 2), a second generation Genocide survivor, illuminated one of the realities of living under the dark cover of genocide: many if not most survivors’ families chose taciturn remembrance as a way to move forward. Accordingly, Aroutiunian’s work is filled with bits of fractured memories, familial melancholy and stoic iconography. Although specific family members are named, specific stories are not disclosed in Aroutiunian’s work. In the second Kiss the Ground exhibition, the work of Talin Megherian (fig. 3), a third generation Genocide survivor, broke silence and disclosed her painful dark past, naming individuals and illuminating personal stories and other cultural remembrances in visibly iconic ways. But Megherian’s work requires intimate knowledge or a key to decipher 13


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Fig. 1 Gagik Aroutiunian, To My Mother—Between Two Stones, 1996

Fig. 2 Gagik Aroutiunian, To My Mother—Between Two Stones, [detail] 1996

her iconography. In the respective cases of Megherian’s and Aroutiunian’s work, both artists’ approaches to content are pertinent to, and respective of, the generation to which each artist is connected. The differences between how and what Aroutiunian and Megherian have disclosed in their personal stories are quite possibly due to subtle shifts in attitude that accompany an increased separation from the date of incident; the closer you are in time to a past tragedy, the harder it is to talk about it. Both artists’ works are hushed in some way, though Megherian’s work is a shade closer to disclosure than Aroutiunian’s. And importantly, both artists’ works speak the truth, respective to their experiences.

One thing these two artists’ truths have helped Thompson Gallery audiences appreciate, regarding what they must continuously navigate, is that neither artist has a better way than the other of exploring their past: all post-genocide attempts at defining self through art are valid, vital and illuminating. As author Lewis Hyde so powerfully demonstrates in The Gift, “So long as the artist speaks the truth, [s]he will, whenever the government is lying or has betrayed the people, become a political force...”12 Indeed, truth survives, Hyde points out, “in the resistant imagination”13 that was moved to create art about inhumane betrayal. Accordingly, Kiss the Ground exhibitions have aimed to voice the collective memory of the Armenians.


Fig. 3 Talin Mrgherian, You Can Stop Carrying Her, 2014

Fig. 4 Lucine Kasbarian, Shared Pain, 2015

In addition to memory and the pursuit of truth, the Kiss the Ground series explored contemporary news as it unfolded through the exhibition Lucine Kasbarian—Perspectives from Exile (fig. 4). Kasbarian’s exhibition of political cartoons examined her chronicling of the intergovernmental relationship between Armenia, Turkey and the United States of America, the history of the Armenian Genocide, and the persistent denial of those crimes against humanity of over one hundred years ago. The combined exhibitions in the series, when considered in unison, act as a composite portrait of a splintered people. Kasbarian’s exhibition— the last in the series—broadened the examination by magnifying the ongoing unrest between involved nations after what

is now over a century of Genocide denial, and clarified the complicated relations between homeland Armenians and Diaspora Armenians—a subject that until recently has not received the attention it deserves.14 The Kiss the Ground exhibitions were intended to provide a space for descendant, Diaspora Armenian voices to be heard and considered. The first three exhibitions in the series explored taciturn, cryptic, poetic, and iconic artistic strategies and were organized so that as the series progressed, the intensity of voice and style increased. We have arrived in our exhibition series at a place in which the content of the work on view has become progressively more overt. A New Armenia advances past 15


the taciturn and the cryptic, and moves into graduated stages of lucidity. Viewers are asked to consider four basic artistic strategies regarding content disclosure: portrayal, poetic allusion, abject symbolism, and transformation. The differences among art that portrays a subject, that points through poetic allusion, that confronts an audience with abject symbolism, or that illuminates the potential of transformation are easily recognized through contemplating a particular work and imagining it as pertaining to a specific taxonomic category. Some works seem to belong in more than one designation, other works easily fit within a single category, and some works may be difficult to pin down. The required effort for establishing this ground work, however, yields a much deeper understanding of the artist’s respective journeys and your own. A New Armenia Though the style of content disclosure varies, several themes that are addressed in A New Armenia overlap and intersect— loss, migration, humanity versus inhumanity, memory, reconstruction, among many others. To encourage contemplation about the overlapping of themes, individual works were placed next to or near others in order to reflect and reverberate issues of content. For example, stepping into A New Armenia (part 3) visitors had to traverse between Aida Laleian’s chard-like ceramic sculptures—presented like strange cultural artifacts from a past civilization, respectively titled Restrained by an Imposing Anchor, and Affirm the Jade—and Marsha Odabashian’s Allegorical Landscape (see pages 136 & 137). Laleian’s jarring, if not surreal, Photoshop-altered and collaged self-portrait imagery exposes the human tendency toward animalistic states. This haunting idea can be felt elsewhere in the exhibition, at the adjacent corner where Laleian’s Change 16

Your Pale Quarrel installation replaces the window shade with a translucent image of a human foot that has grown eagle talons. The windowed image sparks the imagination: were Armenian deportees to have such appendages, how would the outcome of the “deportations” have otherwise turned out? In the vitrine with Laleian’s ceramic work, one of the chards depicts the artist with horse hooves and a lion’s tail, as she stands in front of a stage-coach and an arsenal— symbols of migration and protection. In the other chard, the artist has deer hooves and appears to be in a museum display case, near the extinguished remains of a desert campfire—symbols of migration and public historical examination. Laleian’s work raises many questions, but the apparent imagery of travel and captivity amidst the fusion of animal parts to the human form bends the mind toward associative connections to the exhibition’s main subjects. Though Laleian’s work was not created to examine Armenian history per se,15 the inclusion of her work, with its potent juxtapositions, opens up a series of associations that initiate a heightened frame of reference for the overall exhibition. Her works in this context raise consciousness about what it means for humans to be treated like animals. Odabashian’s painted wood installation does not initially look like a landscape and sky depiction upon first glance; it appears to viewers first as a gritty texture which, like frosting on a cake, decorates the raw wood. The whips of paint, however, when seen at a distance, yield impressions and associations of color—familiar patterns that suggest sky and foliage. Ultimately, the piece yields its reference to landscape, albeit a severely fractured view of land that is precarious to maneuver around as viewers step between Laleian’s work and Odabashian’s upon entering the gallery. Though that initial gallery juxtaposition might have been missed


by viewers, it is nevertheless resonant: the history of being herded and “deported” occurred at the time of the desctruction of the Anatolian Armenian homeland. Peering at Odabashian’s Allegorical Landscape raises questions about the reality of a severed view—which in some ways feels like prison bars that block an otherwise unobstructed panorama. Humans erect boundaries, which necessarily shift as time moves on, but memories of the way things were still linger, like “shadows”— see Odabashian’s artist statement on page 28—that move and shift in time and reappear the following day in a slightly different place as our globe and sun spin to yet new locations in space. Today, Armenians only see partial views of the true Armenian landscape because the Ottoman Turkish government between 1915 and 1923 claimed most of the territory Armenians once inhabited. Armenians are haunted by the memories of how their families were treated during the “deportations”— herded into the desert like animals going to slaughter, beaten and starved, until their numbers were nearly brought to extinction. In general, Odabashian explores materials for their intrinsic conceptual possibilities, and she is known to produce series work that explore particular materials for their associative connections. Leaning on end, at 6 feet in length, her impasto painted, wood landscape installations are human in proportion. The lusciously painted though minimized view of land also suggests the impressionistic Water Lilies of Monet, but in Odabashian’s view, the sky and earth are cut up and rearranged into an unsettling relationship. Situating Laleian’s ceramic pieces with Odabashian’s precariously balanced installation, located at the front of the gallery, confronts viewers as if to say, “you are about to navigate the complicated, upturned territory of a history in contention.”

Navigating past Odabashian’s work brought viewers to one of Apo Torosyan’s 500+ Bread Works. Bread No. 158 is a particularly haunting piece, which dangles from a rope, echoing the cruelty of those who would flaunt their power by hanging food out of reach from starving marchers during the “deportations.” This particular piece—on loan from the Armenian Museum of America (Watertown, MA)—is a unique work within Torosyan’s oeuvre because it is not one of his typical collage-paintings, like most of the works in the Bread series. Rather, Bread No. 158 belongs to the twentieth century object classification known as readymades; to be more precise, Bread No. 158 is an assisted readymade. Torosyan baked the bread and then preserved it using a process he developed, in which he injects the interior of his homemade loaves with acrylic medium over a period of six months, depending on the size of the loaf. Torosyan essentially mummifies the “staff of life” for each work in the series, and frequently transforms, paints, or otherwise collages over them. Bread No. 158 is ostensibly a work with only two elements—bread, and a length of found rope. As a simple juxtaposition, Bread No. 158 is reminiscent of Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel—a kitchen stool with an upside-down bicycle fork—a juxtaposition that evokes the beginning and the end of a journey. Spinning the wheel, as Duchamp was fond of doing, conjures the metaphor of movement, until ultimately the wheel comes to rest atop the stationary stool: a sculpture that embodies both movement and stasis. The petrified loaf in Bread No. 158 is affixed with a rope—a tool used to hoist things to bring them near, or to divide territory, or to bind things together so they won’t fall apart. But in this case, the history that is bound recalls en masse, suspended hunger, experienced throughout the Armenian deportations. The staff of life, hung from a single nail on a wall is rendered inedible, out of reach 17


and relegated to a memory of the want for food. For Torosyan, bread is an allegorical memorial: Many people died of starvation on the death marches for want of bread. There are photographs of Ottoman Turks offering small pieces of bread, too small to share, and dangling the scraps over children’s heads. The Bread pieces are the hidden story of the genocide. I have a lot of bread stories from my family and there is not an Armenian family who does not have a bread story.16 The adjacent piece to Torosyan’s, On My Forefather’s Backs, a looping digital video by Kevork Mourad, calls into mind those who survived the “Death Marches” and how those families bore the weight of a world turned upside-down. But it is a piece easily missed in the exhibition for two reasons. At the request of the artist, the iPad which loops the digital film is “hung low and in an unusual place...and the film progresses so slowly that the action is easily missed, because the subtle changes that occur over time are so slow that viewers more than likely mistake the movie for a still picture”17—a metaphoric reference to the situation many Armenians find themselves in today: overlooked and ignored after a hundred years of Turkish denial while the memories of 1915-23 are imbued in their families makeup. History is literally written on the backs of the surviving generation. Next to Torosyan’s and Mourad’s works are the stacked prints of John Avakian. Avakian makes one-of-a-kind monoprints, which unflinchingly portray Armenian Genocide imagery and are the only works in the exhibition series—other then the film works of Apo Torosyan and Roger Hagopian—to derive imagery from brutally explicit historical photographs. Utilizing period documentation and contemporary 18

digital imaging software, Avakian blatantly reprints the historic record of the horrors of 100 years ago. His imagery, however, which is usually found within textbooks and Armenian accounts of history, shifts the emphasis from past record to current observance. When translated from the utility of the black and white printed page into his monumental prints, Avakian’s works more than report the inhumanity of genocide: they transform viewers into contemporary witnesses—an intentional artistic strategy, designed to be both memorial and confrontational. In her book Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag points out: Photographs of the suffering and martyrdom of a people are more than reminders of death, of failure, of victimization. They invoke a miracle of survival. To aim at the perpetuation of memories means, inevitably, that one has undertaken the task of continually renewing, of creating, memories—aided, above all, by the impress of iconic photographs. People want to be able to visit—and refresh—their memories.18 As noted in the Thompson Gallery catalog, John Avakian—If I Begin to Cry, “Avakian makes use of his [familial] context and commandeers the imagery of ‘the forgotten Genocide’ to inform us, incessantly repeating his imagery lest we forget19 again.20” “Avakian’s imagery is connected to cultural preservation and the Armenian people’s ongoing fight for cultural recognition, restitution and the century-long call for social justice.”21 With the subject of memory in the forefront of the mind, viewers turn the corner of the gallery past Avakian’s work and approach the north wall, where they encounter Adrienne Der Marderosian’s Tattoo Trails I and the decisive installation the artist designed for this particular series of


works. Der Marderosian’s plan for the installation situates 17 framed collagedrawings into three shaped groupings: a triangular grouping of 6 pieces on the right that point to the east, a plus sign configuration with 5 works in the center, and an opposing triangular configuration with 6 works on the left that point to the west. The overall installation points in opposite directions as if to locate the diasporan community here in America as well as the Armenian homeland community abroad. An alternative reading of the installation configuration can be read as “the past” plus “the future.” Considering both conceptual readings, Der Marderosian’s audience is well prepared to consider Tattoo Trails I’s imagery of maps, city scenes with pedestrian traffic, and a street peddler—artist David Hammons’ 1983 performance art piece that highlights the real-world need to survive amidst the oppression of otherness—and the repetitive, superimposed renderings of the pedestrian forms on vellum that are often sewn into place as if to suggest the dotted paths of migration. As Der Marderosian beautifully describes in her artist statement on page 66, the series explores “identity, destiny, memory” and asks questions about how traumatic familial experiences imbue the fabric of the subsequent generations of the descendants who narrowly escaped the Ottoman Empires with their lives. In the middle of the gallery, two vitrine display cases house previously described ceramic works by Aida Laleian, two books by John Avakian, and the bronze medallions of Yefkin Megherian. Avakian’s two books, To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth, and The Avengers explore, like his work in general, the history of the Armenian Genocide using period photography and reproductions of key documents. The former takes its namesake from a wellknown quote by Voltaire as it explores “the

real purpose of the deportations.”22 The latter concerns “Operation Nemesis” and the four men of the Nemesis group who performed the executions of the Armenian Genocide architects by carrying out the death sentences handed down by the Turkish Military Tribunals (see Avakian’s artist’s statement, page 40). Avakian’s work provides a sense of social justice for its reportage, juxtapositions and commemoration. In the second vitrine, metallic commemoration occupies the vitrine adjacent to Der Marderosian’s work, showcasing the medallions of Yefkin Megherian. Yefkin Megherian’s sculptures embed Armenia’s individuals into bronze. Since the late 1980s, Megherian has consistently recorded the history of Armenia through the casting of basrelief sculptures: key events and various personages—ranging from portraits of artists, musicians and clergy, to various family members or imagery taken from newspapers and photographic archives. Unlike the other artists in the exhibition, Yefkin Megherian uses traditional methods in the conventional sense, but in translating photographic portrayals into metal, a material known for its electrical conductivity and its longevity, Megherian increases the potential for Armenia’s history to live on in the memory of others, long after most work presented in this exhibition has been lost to time. The inclusion of Megherian’s work in this show, among works of postmodern art—that primarily deconstruct, take apart or divide its subject into component parts as it re-presents its subjects, as opposed to simply presenting its subjects—is testament to the widespread needs of contemporary Armenians. Traditional materials and processes alongside innovative ones link the past to the present and provide conductivity between the old world and the new. 19


The next work we encounter is by another artist who typically does not address her Armenian heritage—a viable strategy for any family dealing with a dark history is to not engage in painful recalling.23 Gail Boyajian’s paintings on view represent a few of her key outliers within her oeuvre and they round out the exhibition in important ways. Situated in opposite corners in the gallery to Marsha Odabashian’s Allegorical Landscape, Boyajian’s ironic Romantic Landscape (Triptych) shows the bleak and sad state of western Armenia (today’s eastern Turkey)—with its view beyond the fenced-in boundary and the desolation as far as the eye can see of what was once the site of western Armenia. Specifically, the triptych depicts the Turkish/Armenian border, separated by razor wire.24 Boyajian visited the region in 2008 and was struck by its wide, desolate panorama, punctuated by scattered Armenian ruins. Boyajian’s Multidisciplinary Sky—a painting that was unavailable at the time of the exhibition, but was originally scheduled to be in the show (see page 97)—depicts a world in which multiple species co-inhabit the region. Multidisciplinary Sky communicates a strong message while also depicting a social arrangement that was lost at the early onset of the twentieth century. As Taner Akçam notes in his book, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility: The Ottoman Empire comprised many different religious and national groups. Apart from Islam, the state religion, various rights were recognized for other monotheistic religions, also know as “peoples of the book.” These lived for centuries with a certain degree of religious communal autonomy. The principle of social organization formed the foundation of the Ottoman state, which, based on the principle of heterogeneity and difference rather than homogeneity and sameness, 20

functioned in the opposite way to modern nation-states.25 In the context of this exhibition, Multidisciplinary Sky stands as a powerful metaphor for Armenians who have inhabited the tumultuous region between the Black and Caspian Seas for several millennia. Thus, Boyajian’s paintings included in A New Armenia act as bookends describing the “Turkification”26 of Anatolia via portraits of the place before and after “The Armenian Question”27 became the predecessor of the “The Final Solution”28—the first two genocides of the twentieth century. The first act of genocide began on April 24, 1915 during the first deportations: The most important document to reveal the real intent behind the decision to deport the Armenians—that it was not simply related to wartime security—is a statement sent to the grand vizier from the Ministry of the Interior on 26 May 1915. The document states that the deportations need to take place so that the Armenian question is “brought to an end in a comprehensive and absolute way.29 Moving past the portrait of contemporary western Armenia, viewers are confronted by the ethereal projection of Kevork Mourad’s March 15—the title of which refers to the Syrian civil war, which began in 2011. March 15 is a looped digital projection of a chalkboard drawing of an Armenian town, populated by a floating figure that moves over the rendering, rubbing away the drawing as it moves around and above the space. As Mourad’s March 15 suggests, the genocide continues to echo in the form of living “nightmare[s]” about today’s inhabitants, who are born into an “ordinary life” and are then “caught up in the turmoil” that ends up erasing itself in the process of living.30 As Mourad’s March 15 reminds us of the events of one hundred years ago, it also


links cultures, time and space in order to illustrate continued turmoil: April 24th, 1915 marked the start of the Armenian Genocide, when many Armenians fled to Syria, where they were welcomed and allowed to live in harmony with the culture. March 15, 2011 is the day on which the Syrian uprising started, and for Armenians, it represented the second time that their home was being taken from under them. In this piece, I refer to the destruction of Armenian churches that existed next to Syrian mosques (like what happened to the Church of the Forty Martyrs and Sourp Kevork church in the historic and in heavily Armenian districts of Aleppo). In the end, after Syria has been emptied of so many of its inhabitants, I express hope in the piece that Syria will bring back its people—including its minorities for whom it was always a haven—to recreate an even better society.31 March 15 is a work that illuminates how the 1915 Turkification of Armenia continues to reverberate and how diasporan Armenians continue to find themselves in cataclysmic situations. The haunting motif of floating leg imagery found in March 15 is echoed in the adjacent sculpture installation, Blue Smoke, by Jessica Sperandio. Blue Smoke literally represents the cutting edge of the Armenian art world. Having completed her MFA in the summer of 2014 and immediately finding representation in the Kiss the Ground exhibitions, her laser-cut, wall-mounted installation sculptures chronicle familial stories of the genocide, the migration of her family to America, and the aftermath of the devastation within her family. Blue Smoke depicts the story of Mardiros Boyajian, who was frequently found lying on his living room floor beneath a cloud of cigar smoke, apparently lost in his thoughts and

memories about the tragedies his family endured. Sperandio’s laser-cut, familialbiographical sculptures are broken into two groups—stories that involve family history in Ottoman Armenia are made with traditional materials, such as leather and wood; stories that take place on American soil are made using plastic. Sperandio draws and then translates her drawings into vector files that allow her to create the intricate and sharply edged works that only a computer driven laser cutter can make. Whereas many of the Kiss the Ground artists have not named family members in their art, Sperandio routinely acknowledges her family’s names, making the experience of considering the Armenian Genocide all the more personal and real. Turning the final corner of the exhibition, viewers find the contrasting works of Apo Torosyan and Jackie Kazarian. Apo Torosyan’s documentary film Voices was selected as the painfully inescapable soundtrack of A New Armenia. Voices centers on the testimony of three genocide survivors. At the time of the filming, the youngest interviewee, Luther Eskijian, was 94 years of age, Hovhannes Madzharyan was 105 years old and Yeghsapet Giragosian was 106. Their testimony reverberated through the gallery, as the history of the genocide was examined by documentary film-maker and narrator Torosyan. Works like Voices, which depend upon primary resources to convey the historical record through spoken word, are invaluable treasures as much as they are uncomfortable to watch. They make real what most other art forms can only render into powerful abstract objectifications. Voices is a much longer documentary film, but a 16 minute, edited version was selected for the exhibition itself—and is also available for viewing on the Thompson Gallery exhibition webpage. The full-length version was screened at the Thompson Gallery gallery talk on April 21


26, 2015, during the same weekend as the Armenian Genocide Centennial Memorial. Pain, suffering and remembrance are surprisingly not the only themes to be explored in this most grim of the Kiss the Ground exhibits. On the same wall as Voices, the final work in the show is Jackie Kazarian’s Forgiveness painting series. Kazarian’s work explores the notion of forgiveness—the final stage any victim of violent crime must move through to be healed of the crippling aftereffects of the endured hostile tragedy. Kazarian’s work represents both the most hopeful and controversial work in the Kiss the Ground exhibition. Created as studies for her monumental Armenia (Hayasdan)—a 12 by 25 foot, 3-section painting modeled after Pablo Picasso’s Guernica— Kazarian’s Forgiveness painting series is made up of an amalgam of references including church architectural floor plans, scanned and printed images of her mother’s traditional Marash, Armenia lace embroidery, copies of Armenian illuminated manuscript paintings, and the Armenian word forgive—ներել. Kazarian describes forgiveness as a “personal act” of one’s “volition.”32 It is in this sense the journey though Kiss the Ground more than comes to an end: it comes full circle. Yergurbakootyoon both begins and ends with a personal act of volition.

22

Genocide survivors “integrate the trauma, find meaning in their experiences, and move on to the next stage of their life.”33 A child survivor of the Armenian Genocide, Dr. Kalayjian “founded the Armenian American Society for Studies on Stress and Genocide,” as well as established a “Mental Health Outreach Program in Soviet Armenia to assist the psychosocial needs of the surviving community in Soviet Armenia” after the devastating earthquake of 1988.34 She found that “some of the nightmares of the Armenian earthquake survivors were not of the earthquake, but of the Turkish gendarmes whipping them in the Arabian deserts” during the 1915 deportations.35 A year later in 1989, and at a loss for how to help the dual survivors, Kalayjian consulted the advice of a colleague, Viktor Frankl—a psychiatrist, survivor of the Nazi concentration camps and the author of Man’s Search for Meaning.36 As Kalayjian points out in her essay, “What Viktor Frankl had spoken of was an individual and spiritual forgiveness. Not a political one.” Kalayjian’s own point of view shifted hearing Frankl’s suggestion: Ask the Armenians to forgive. You have waited close to eighty years, these survivors are dying as we speak, they can’t wait any longer, help them forgive.37

Kazarian was inspired to create her series about forgiveness during her research for Armenia (Hayasdan), when she located a provocative essay by Dr. Ani Kalayjian, entitled Forgiveness & Transcendence, published in the psychology periodical Clio’s Psyche. The influential essay, central to the work of Kazarian and to the Kiss the Ground exhibition series, merits a brief description.

The suggestion proved to be a potent message. Today Kalayjian lectures around the world on the successful work she has been doing to encourage Genocide survivors to “forgive without forgetting.” One of the most provocative instances in which her message was delivered was to a Turkish audience. In June of 1999, at the Sixth European Conference on Psychotraumatology Clinical Practice and Human Rights, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, Kalayjian

Forgiveness & Transcendence outlines Kalayjian’s struggle to help Armenian elderly

asked the scientific community to assist the Turkish people to develop an emotional


maturity by accepting responsibility, and apologizing for the wrongs of their ancestors, as they distance themselves from it. They too need to forgive their ancestors to be able to stop the denial and accept the responsibility.38 With this sense of “forgiveness” in mind, artist Jackie Kazarian created her Armenia (Hayasdan) painting and her Forgiveness series. On both occasions that Kazarian’s work was exhibited—at the Armenian Museum of America and the Thompson Gallery—Kazarian’s work was situated to be the last work viewed in the exhibition checklist. And with the notion of forgiving and not forgetting situated in the minds of anyone leaving the gallery space, a new set of possibilities emerge. Anywhere Since 1915 …[W]e have to know the bitter but not become bitter…Life, Aram, life. There is death…but there is life. And that’s what we have to see…create. …I couldn’t change the past, but I could infuse a sense of life even where the vultures of death hovered. —Haron39 Elliot Baker, 2014 We [Armenians] are winning. While so many of our ancestors voices were stilled, the descendants are speaking more passionately and more powerfully then ever.40 Chris Boyajian, 2015 My sole consolation is that I do not grieve alone. The nation of Turkey consists of more than simply its denialist regime; there is another Turkey, and the citizens of that Turkey are ready to face their history. It is those Turks who feel obligated to erase the black stain left by those who committed these crimes. In

more than 25 cities from Istanbul to Van, the people of this Turkey have not waited for a denialist government to recognize the genocide. Instead, they have been blazing a new path, one that allows them to discover their past. I am not an official representative of this other Turkey, but I know I speak for many when I convey to you, the Armenian people, my sincere apologies for both past crimes and for this century of denial.41 Dr. Taner Akçam, 2015 At this juncture, A New Armenia is brought full circle. Yergurbakootyoon. It is an act of great effort and dedication to transform your world. Indeed, as Kazarian’s work points out, there is hope and there is the possibility of transcendence. Above all else, the Kiss the Ground project sought to explore and celebrate the potential of transcendence because Kiss the Ground artists represent such aspirations in myriad ways. The Armenian culture has always been both traditional and forward-looking in the creation of their art.42 In other words, Armenian art has always incorporated the traditions of their own past, by referencing not only their own relics, but also the relics of other cultures too, and this is always achieved while simultaneously infusing contemporary interests into their overall eclectic aesthetic. Kiss the Ground, then, is the extended acts of a great many people to construct A New Armenia. The combined creative acts of all the Kiss the Ground artists embody of the pursuit of justice over the last century, but the origins of their turmoil goes back into antiquity—Armenia was the first state to adopt Christianity two millennia ago,43 and from that moment Armenians were embroiled in one kind of struggle or another, often tragic.44 It is fitting, then, to consider that the notion of “social justice” comes to us out of a faithbased institution as early as 1843, from the 23


Jesuit philosopher Luigi Taparelli d’Azeglio.45 And since then, the notions of “equality” and “common humanity” have been an ideal held up as among the highest of human values. The Kiss the Ground exhibitions were created to examine the myriad ways contemporary Armenian artists have managed their challenging cultural and historical situation. In the words of Donald Bloxham, The massive trauma inflicted on the collective consciousness of the Armenian people is an open wound, continually aggravated by the refusal to acknowledge its infliction.46 One hundred years after the “massacres” of the eastern Anatolia Armenians, and seventytwo years after Raphael Lemkin coined the word “genocide,” A New Armenia stands as a contemporary portrait of a people still finding their ground in the world at large. Seen altogether, the six Kiss the Ground exhibitions with their seven publications does something else as well. Kiss the Ground keeps in motion Dr. Rev. King’s great imperative: What are you doing for others?47 This exhibition series asks its viewers to carry forth the stories presented by Kiss the Ground artists. To carry their stories with you now, while on your own journey, is to play an important role in “mak[ing] a world which can be inherited.48 To understand that part Armenian art is to appreciate why every time Armenians meet along their journeys, they are compelled to create a new Armenia. Todd Bartel Gallery Director, Curator Thompson Gallery

24

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1. William Saroyan, Inhale & Exhale, Random House, New York, NY, 1936, p. 438 2. As quoted at a Broadway memorial tribute to Saroyan, reported in The New York Times (31 October 1983), http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/William_Saroyan, 4/24/15 3. Art Asia Pacific Magazine, Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art, Issue 76, Nov/Dec 2011, http://artasiapacific.com/Magazine/76, 1/4/15 4. As quoted by Coretta Scott King in The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Newmarket Press, 1984, Ch. Community of man, p. 17 5. The Armenian National Institute, Inc., Washington, DC, Rouben Paul Adalian, http://www.armeniangenocide.org/genocide.html, March 27, 2015, (permission requested March 27, 2015) 6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armenia, retrieved March 20, 2015 7. Ibid. 8. Ibid. 9. http://blog.dictionary.com/afghanistan-kyrgyzstan/, retrieved March 20, 2015 10. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan, Ed. The Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, St. Vartan Press, New York, 2011, ix 11. Note: the first paragraph is reprinted from A New Armenia (Parts 1 & 2) wall text and the accompanying catalog (p. 12), for the purposes of providing the Cambridge School of Weston’s audience with the background context. 12. Lewis Hyde, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property, First Vintage Books Edition, Random House, New York, NY, 1979, p. 198 13. Ibid. 14. See: Lucine Kasbarian—Perspectives from Exile, exhibition catalog, Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA, and Lulu.com, 2016 15. Aida Laleian, “In the 1960s there was a great deal of pressure to assimilate to the anglo culture.” My grand parents were in it,” phone conversation, October 6, 2014 16. Apo Torosyan interview, 10/13/14 17. Kevork Mourad, July 31, 2014 telephone communication 18. Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, Picador, New York, NY, 2003, p. 87 19. John Avakian, Artist Statement II, see: exhibition catalog, John Avakian—If I Begin to Cry, Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA, and Lulu.com, Weston, MA, 2016, p. 178 20. Todd Bartel, catalog essay, John Avakian—If I Begin


to Cry, Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA, and Lulu.com, 2016, p. 21 21. Ibid., p. 21 22. Henry Morgenthau, SR, American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, 1913-16, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, Double Day Page & Company, New York, 1918, p. 309. Full quote: The real purpose of the deportation was robbery and destruction; it really represented a new method of massacre. When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact. 23. See exhibition catalog, Gagik Aroutiunian—Kiss the Ground, Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA, and Lulu.com, 2015, pp. 10-17 24. Gail Boyajian email, March 22, 2015 25. Taner Akçam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, Holt and Company, LLC, New York, NY, 2006, p. 20 26. Akçam, pp. 82-108 27. Akçam, pp. 17-82 28. Akçam, p. 7 [“We know, however, that German involvement was not limited to simple awareness of the events and remaining silent. Instead, some German officers even signed some of the deportation orders.”] 29. Akçam, p. 155 30. Kevork Mourad, artist’s statement, exhibition catalog, Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia, Thompson Gallery and Lulu.com, 2015, p. 88 31. Mourad, July 31, 2014 32. Jackie Kazarian, artist’s statement, exhibition catalog, Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia, Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA, and Lulu.com, 2015, p. 114 33. Dr. Ani Kalayjian, Forgiveness and Transcendance, Clio’s Psyche, vol. 6, 3, December, 1999, pp. 116-119 34. Ibid. 35. Ibid. 36. Ibid. 37. Ibid. 38. Ibid. 39. Baker, p. 19 40. Chris Bohjalian, Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Speech, Times Square, April 26, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF_Z4-9YUSA, retrieved, April 26, 2015 41. Dr. Taner Akçam, Armenian Genocide Centennial Commemoration Speech, Times Square April 26, 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tfApobB2DI,

retrieved, April 26, 2015 42. For an examination of Armenian artists fusion of the past with contemporary nuance, see the exhibition catalog, Talin Megherian—Kiss the Ground, Thompson Gallery, The Cambridge School of Weston, Weston, MA and Lulu.com, 2015, pp. 16-17. Note: As pointed out in the essay on Talin Megherian’s work: “Armenian art, on the whole, follows two contradictory currents, better, even, two tendencies: One somewhat progressive, is innovative, whether it is or is not inspired by foreign influences. The other is conservative, retaining and going back to past forms and techniques.” From: JeanMichel Thierry, Patrick Donabedian, translated from the French by CÈlestine Dars, Armenian Art, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, NY, 1989, p. 38 43. Thomas F. Mathews and Roger S. Wieck Eds., Treasures in Heaven—Armenian Illuminated manuscripts, The Pierpont Morgan Library, Princeton University Press, 1994, p. xiv (Preface); & Fr. Krikor H. Maksoidian, The Religion of Armenia, pp. 24-27 44. Mathews, pp. 3-23 45. https://home.isi.org/origins-social-justice-taparellid’azeglio, February 2, 2016 46. Donald Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide (Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians), Oxford University Press, New York, 2005, p. 234 47. Ibid. 48. Ibid.

25


Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia

Part 3: March 30 - June 13, 2015


Allegorical Landscape merges painting, sculpture and installation. It emerged from paintings on canvas and wood, on which I had been previously working. I had been using heavily decorated borders that I had seen in Medieval Armenian manuscripts. I thought I would experiment using just the borders and eliminate the large central figures. The result was four vertical, parallel impasto painted sticks, sticking out approximately 10 inches from the wall at the base of each stick. I was interested in the borders and what was not there. What “wasn’t there” became “what was there.” “What was there” were shadows cast by the painted sticks creating multiple layers. The piece is a play between thickly painted low relief sticks and the shadows cast upon the wall. The shadows and the wall are as much a part of the piece as the painted sticks. The sticks refer to Armenian culture throughout the centuries as well as the culture in which they were created; in a way, they refer to the Armenian land (‘ergir’) itself. The shadows and the space in which they are cast refer to impermanence and transience, as well as to constant but also ambiguous space of the sky or heaven (‘ergink’) above the land. In Allegorical Landscape I am acknowledging permanence and impermanence. Viewers have interpreted the piece as a garden, relating it to a trellis or something to plant in a garden as a decoration, or referencing the Garden of Eden. Others have seen Monet’s Water Lilies with the fleeting light. In either case, permanence and impermanence are observed. Is this piece about genocide? Did it emerge from an Armenian sensibility, if there is one? I engage in a characteristic Armenian obsession with loss resulting from the genocide, trying to obscure the horror of the genocide with decoration, especially flowers, that could be placed on a tomb with hopes of at least temporary solace. 28


Marsha Odabashian Allegorical Landscape, 2009 gesso, acrylic, wood 72 x 72 x 10.5 inches

photo credit: Stewart Clements

29


Marsha Odabashian Allegorical Landscape (top detail)

photo credit: Stewart Clements

30


Marsha Odabashian Allegorical Landscape (middle detail)

photo credit: Stewart Clements

31


Bread, which is the staff of life, was taken away from my ancestors. It represents victims of oppression. They died in starvation, including my grandparents. I immortalize bread within my concepts. It is an organic metaphor. It is the cycle of life. The form is expressive. If you look closely, you can never find one single slice of bread similar to another. This accelerates one’s imagination. 32


Apo Torosyan Bread No. 158, 1999 bread, polymer, rope, polyurethane, nail 29 x 13 inches [on loan from the collection of the Armenian Museum of America, Watertown, MA] 33


I am a Syrian-Armenian artist, born in Qamishli, Syria in 1970. Now I live and work in New York. I often incorporate elements of my mixed heritage in my work, my roots lying in two ancient cultures, Armenian and Syrian, and my consciousness keen to the ideas of exile, of loss, of the clash of civilizations. The spontaneity of my lines, which lent itself to my technique of live visuals, goes with my dependence on music for inspiration, especially Armenian, world music and new classical. 34


Kevork Mourad On the Backs of My Forefathers, 2014 (film still 1) single channel video, 4:26 minutes, iPad, looped DV 35


Kevork Mourad On the Backs of My Forefathers (film still 2) 36


Kevork Mourad On the Backs of My Forefathers (film still 3) 37


Kevork Mourad On the Backs of My Forefathers (film still 4) 38


Kevork Mourad On the Backs of My Forefathers (film still) 39


The Armenian Genocide prints began in 1991 as an emotionally fraught journey for me, and for my art on paper. Also during this time a relatively new method of transferring images to paper became an important technical interest: paper-litho. Coupled together, these investigative interests soon became a bifurcated creative focus in exploring both a new method of printing beyond anything I had previously done or seen, and a horrific threatening subject matter I felt obliged to infiltrate—genocide and then family history. It was a daunting undertaking that would change my inner life far more than I could have imagined, and would span over a decade of printings. The journey I was entering began with insatiable research, perusing many books at libraries and websites. My intent was to look for historical photos of the Armenian Genocide documenting the frightening brutality. I soon found myself becoming interested in segments of text, sentences, and paragraphs from my readings, and I was compelled to copy these statements as another kind of visual/literal expression that would expand the meaning of the photos and heighten the expressive thrust of the image. Having acquired an adequate amount of photos and text material as a kind of library, I also needed to explore the new paper-litho transfer medium as a craft. Only then could I begin to evolve a methodology to what turned out to be an assembling process, sometimes over an extended period of time, not knowing what image or text would follow or how many more printings would be required to reach the desired state of completion. Many of the printings remained undetermined, not completed in plan, but evolved over time, sometimes taking days, weeks, months and years. These panoramically expansive images began from a subset of images that were being created during another series of prints. However, they soon served as technical preparation for printing a group of large-scale prints that was to follow. This dual engagement of working on two different series alternately over time developed into a kind of modus operandi, exponentially increasing my level of productivity and creative thinking. The layout of these images, after being selected from my visual resource library, gradually evolved as I thought critically about the medium of photography and the subject of genocide. Capturing an instant moment of time in a single photograph, it seemed to me, could not adequately represent the magnitude of the acts of genocide, which occurred repeatedly over many years. Nor could it effectively represent this historic time of inhumanity and 1.5 million murdered Armenians. To offset this limitation, I chose a horizontally expansive presentation, and horrific images repeated over and over, as if a fragment of “still images� were taken from a film of living history. There was still something missing, something personal and individual that needed to be stated. This would come in the form of text, which would allude to the angst and suffering of those innocent individuals who died without a voice and of those who lived and suffered. 40


John Avakian Public Display, 1998, 2001, 2003 monoprint, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 14.75 x 42 inches photo credit: John Avakian

John Avakian A Blanket of Silence, 1998, 1999, 2000 monoprint, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 14.75 x 41.75 inches photo credit: John Avakian

41


John Avakian Trophies of Genocide 1, 1999, 2000 monoprint, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 14 x 42 inches photo credit: John Avakian

John Avakian The Long Walk, 1998, 1999 monoprint, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 14.75 x 39.5 inches photo credit: John Avakian

42


John Avakian Trophies of Genocide 2, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003 monoprint, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 14.875 x 41.75 inches photo credit: John Avakian

John Avakian Remnants of Hatred, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003 monoprint, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 14.75 x 41.75 inches photo credit: John Avakian

43


John Avakian To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth, 2001 24 page book, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK, (page 1) 8.5 x 7.5 inches 44


John Avakian To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth (pages 4-5) 45


John Avakian To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth, 2001 (pages 12-13) 46


John Avakian To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth (pages 16-17) 47


John Avakian To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth (pages 14-15) 48


John Avakian To the Living We Owe Respect, But to the Dead We Owe Only the Truth (page 24) 49


The brave men whose portraits appear in The Avengers were part of Operation Nemesis, organized by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. ARSHAVIR SHIRAGIAN assassinated Said Halim Pasha, the Ottoman Grand Vizier from 1913-1916, in Rome on December 5, 1921. He also assassinated Cemel (Djemal) Azmi, known as “the monster of Trebizond,� in Berlin on April 17, 1922. On March 15, 1921 in Berlin, SOGHOMON TEHLERIAN assassinated Talat Pasha, who was one of the leaders of the Young Turks and a leading member of Sublime Porte. ARAM YERGANIAN assassinated an Azerbaijani Government official by the name of Gasimbekov in 1920. In 1921 he assassinated Fathali Khan Khoiski, the former Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, in Tiflis. On April 17, 1922 in Berlin, he assassinated Behaeddin Shakir, who was a founding member of the Committee of Union and Progress. MISSAK TORLAKIAN assassinated Bihbud Khan Jivanshir, the former interior minister of Azerbaijan, on July 18, 1921. 50


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 24-page book, multiple paper litho-transfers, on BFK 10.5 x 30 inches (open) 51


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 6) 52


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 7) 53


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 8) 54


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 9) 55


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 12) 56


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 13) 57


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 14) 58


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 15) 59


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 22) 60


John Avakian The Avengers, 2001 (page 23) 61


Aida Laleian Restrained by an Imposing Anchor, 2000 silver emulsion on porcelain, hand colored with oil paints 8.5 x 6.25 inches Restrained by an Imposing Anchor and Affirm the Jade were made in 2000, after a few years of experimentation, trying to find a support to which silver gelatin emulsion would adhere and also survive the chemical baths for processing. I found porcelain to be both porous enough to accept the emulsion, and vitreous enough to release the photo chemicals. The emulsion is black and white; the color is oil paint, which I applied by hand after the emulsion dried and hardened, on the porcelain. The originals are primarily 4 x 5 inch black/white negatives scanned into the computer so that the images could be combined in Photoshop. I have always been interested in creating ‘objects’ as well as images. 62


Aida Laleian Affirm the Jade, 2000 silver emulsion on porcelain, hand colored with oil paints 6.25 x 8 inches 63


101.85

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Adrienne Der Marderosian Tattoo Trails I, 2010 17 mixed media collages installation configuration 65


This series of works on paper entitled Tattoo Trails I explores my interest in identity, destiny and memory. What drives and motivates us? How do we endure the most challenging of situations? Does destiny control us or do our actions determine the direction of our lives? These pieces are meant to stimulate us to examine our own personal histories and to recognize how our narratives are etched (carried) within us. Tattoo Trails I is inspired by a photograph of Bliz-aard Ball Sale (1983)—a piece performed by David Hammons in Cooper Square, New York. Hammons, a conceptual artist, deals with issues of racial and economic discrimination. In this performance, Hammons reflects on black culture. He comments on the plight of the street peddler as he sells his wares in the harsh streets of the city. He captures our attention by highlighting the precarious working conditions of the disenfranchised. As an artist of Armenian descent, Hammons’ commentary on issues of identity and discrimination resonates with me. His message is a global one, as many of us have endured racial and economic strife. His works led me to consider my own collective history and how Armenians experienced similar discrimination under the rule of the Ottoman Empire. The issue of fate is a universal question that touches me personally. My paternal grandmother, Aghavni Der Marderosian, recounted stories of her narrow escape from the Turks during the Armenian Genocide. Her writings documented the family history and the numbers of those lost in the massacres. On my maternal side there were no stories shared of the Genocide—just a strong silence. Perhaps it was too painful to talk about and yet the suffering from their life-altering experiences clearly remained indelibly within them. Both accounts, the spoken and the unspoken, have stayed with me and I have felt a responsibility to tell their story. My work questions why our lives move in certain directions or paths. I ask the viewers to examine the journeys they are travelling and the internal tattoos they may carry. 66


Adrienne Der Marderosian Prodigal Son, 2010 photograph, xerographic print, vellum tape, paper 6 5/16� x 4 inches 67


Adrienne Der Marderosian Tattoo Trails No. 2, 2010 xerographic prints, maps, glassine, thread, graphite, vellum tape, paper 7 x 3.4375 inches 68


Adrienne Der Marderosian Tattoo Trails No. 1, 2010 xerographic print, maps, glassine, thread, graphite, vellum tape, paper 7.0625 x 4.125 inches 69


Adrienne Der Marderosian Traces of Memory No. 2, 2010 xerographic prints, map, graphite, ink, vellum tape, paper 4.25 x 7.375 inches 70


Adrienne Der Marderosian Subterranean Blues, 2010 xerographic prints, glassine, graphite, vellum tape, paper 6.375 x 4.375 inches 71


Adrienne Der Marderosian Ballad of Reason No. 3, 2010 xerographic prints, graphite, vellum tape, paper 7.375 x 5 inches 72


Adrienne Der Marderosian Exodus, 2010 xerographic prints, graphite, vellum tape, paper 7 x 5 inches 73


Adrienne Der Marderosian Introspection, 2010 xerographic prints, text, image transfer, graphite, vellum tape, paper 6.3125 x 4.125 inches 74


Adrienne Der Marderosian Passage, 2010 facsimile of original (map, glassine, thread, graphite, vellum tape, paper) 6.9375 x 3.625 inches 75


Adrienne Der Marderosian Traces of Memory No. 1, 2010 xerographic print, map, ink, acetate, vellum tape, paper 8 x 4.875 inches 76


Adrienne Der Marderosian Ballad of Reason No. 2, 2010 xerographic print, graphite, vellum tape, paper 8 x 5 inches 77


Adrienne Der Marderosian Untitled, 2010 xerographic print, graphite, vellum tape, paper 8 x 5 inches 78


Adrienne Der Marderosian Ode to a Dream Deferred, 2010 xerographic prints, map, vellum tape, paper 6.0625 x 2.875 inches 79


Adrienne Der Marderosian Ballad of Reason No.1, 2010 xerographic print, graphite, vellum tape, paper 8 x 5 inches 80


Adrienne Der Marderosian Portrait of a Moment No. 1, 2010 xerographic prints, map, ink, vellum tape, paper 6.8125 x 3.5 inches 81


Adrienne Der Marderosian Portrait of a Moment No. 2, 2010 xerographic print, map, graphite, ink, vellum tape, paper 5.25 x 3.4375 inches 82


Adrienne Der Marderosian Resurrection Shuffle, 2010 xerographic print, charcoal, pastels, graphite, vellum tape, paper 8 x 5 inches 83


Yefkin Megherian Woman in Chadour, 2004 bronze 4.25 x 3.75 inches A Muslim woman in the typical dress of the Middle East, her face and body covered. This medallion is in the collection of medallions in the British Museum. 84


Yefkin Megherian Aftermath: Earthquake Mother 1988, 1997 bronze 4.5 x 3.625 inches In 1988, an earthquake of 6.8 magnitude hit northern Armenia. 25,000-50,000 people died. This medallion depicts a destitute “Earthquake Mother� with her children. 85


Yefkin Megherian Armenian Landscape with Moon and Mountains, [obverse], 2005 bronze 4.125 x 4.125 inches Armenia’s Lake Sevan is one of the largest high altitude lakes in the world. This medallion creates a serene mood over the waters of Lake Sevan. 86


Yefkin Megherian Lake Sevan with Sun and Boat [reverse], 2005 bronze 4.125 x 4.125 inches Here we see a placid scene of vacationers enjoying Lake Sevan. 87


Yefkin Megherian St. Hripsime and St. Gayane, 1995 bronze 3.25 x 3.25 inches These women belonged to a group of Christian nuns. Gayane was the Superior of the group. Hripsime, known for her beauty throughout the Roman Empire, fled to Armenia with her group to escape the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, who desired her. The Armenian king, Drtad, also wanted to marry her. She refused him, and she and the group were tortured and died terrible deaths for their faith. 88


Yefkin Megherian St. Gregory of Narrek (951-1010), 1993 bronze 7.875 x 6.75 inches Gregory was a simple monk from the area of Van in Turkey. He was an extraordinarily gifted poet, as well as a mystic philosopher and theologian, known widely for his “Book of Lamentations� which has been translated into many languages. St. Gregory is a saint of the Armenian Church and has recently been declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Francis. 89


Yefkin Megherian Magar Yegmalian 1856-1905, 2003 bronze 4.875 x 4.875 inches Composer of a beloved musical arrangement of the Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, Yegmalian studied at the Etchmiadzin seminary in Armenia and with Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. 90


Yefkin Megherian Vosdanik Manuk Adoian—Arshile Gorky 1904-1948, 2001 bronze 5.125 x 4.25 inches Gorky is an important Armenian-American artist. Born Vosdanik Manuk Adoian in 1904 in Khorkom, a village near Lake Van, Turkey. He came to America and became part of the modern movement and one of the first Abstract Expressionists. 91


Yefkin Megherian Der Bedros Darakjian (1833-1912) and Yeretzgin Hripsime (dates unknown), 1997 bronze 4.375 x 6 inches This medallion is one of two medallions I made in honor of both sets of my grandparents. The first medallion depicts my paternal grandfather and his wife. Both my grandfathers were clergymen and each of them had his own parish. Out of the six Armenian churches in Marash, Turkey, my grandfathers were the priests of two of them. 92


Yefkin Megherian Der Vartan DerMinassian (1855-1916) and Yeretzgin Acabe (1860-1920), 1996 bronze 4.25 x 5.875 inches This medallion portrays my maternal grandparents. Acabe perished with members of her family as they attempted to escape massacre by the Turks. Der Vartan died in Aleppo, Syria. 93


Gail Boyajian Romantic Landscape (Triptych), 2012 oil on panels 5 x 76 inches photo credit: Gail Boyajian

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This triptych painting was a response to the landscape of eastern Anatolia, or what was once Greater Armenia, which I visited in 2008. I was surprised at the strong emotions that this landscape aroused in me as I saw the ruins of Armenian churches and the remains of the ancient city of Ani: I felt a connection, almost a sense of ownership, as though I was finally seeing an important element in my identity. The characteristics of this landscape were narrow deep river valleys, dramatic mountains (of which Mt. Ararat is the most notable), and the broad plain around Lake Van. These three small paintings are an attempt to represent the mystery and tragedy embedded in these places, but also their beauty.


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Gail Boyajian Romantic Landscape (Triptych), 2012 [details showing proportion shift between panels] photo credit: Gail Boyajian

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Gail Boyajian Multidisciplinary Sky, 2012 oil on panel 24 x 36 x 2 inches photo credit: Gail Boyajian

As an artist I am liberated from a purely documentary role and allowed to include those things not obviously visible. I have come to see landscapes and cities as characters, created by the voices and ghosts of present and past inhabitants, artistic efforts, religious beliefs, geologic formations and life forms other than human, in dialogue with each other. Where light falls, what lurks in the shadows, the placement of human figures in a setting can suggest conversations across boundaries: Simultaneously, the artist communicates with imaginary historically unconnected companions in an environment based on a real place. 97


Kevork Mourad March 15, 2013 single channel video 4:03 minutes, looped DVD, film still 1 After hearing so many horrible stories about what is happening in my country of birth, from the news and from friends, I decided to create an artistic representation of the cycle of loss and hope that is playing out. I took on the role of a young Syrian going through all the chaos in the country. He is born into an ordinary life but then is caught up in the turmoil. In the video, as you follow his path, you realize that things are melting away from him, like in a nightmare. The diversity of the city’s architecture, representative of its cultural wealth, is slowly destroyed. But when the upturn happens--when you think that the city might find itself again—the man vanishes. 98


Kevork Mourad March 15, 2013 film still 2 99


Kevork Mourad March 15, 2013 film still 3 100


Kevork Mourad March 15, 2013 film still 4 101


Kevork Mourad March 15, 2013 film still 5 102


Kevork Mourad March 15, 2013 film still 6 103


Jessica Sperandio Blue Smoke, 2014 acrylic 84 x 78 x 14.5 inches Mardiros Boyajian, a teenage genocide survivor, worked at General Electric after emigrating to the United States, until he suffered a life-altering head injury that left him disabled and unable to work. “Mardiros would lie down on the floor and smoke for hours until there was a blue haze covering the apartment,” his daughter Mary recalled. “I would come home from school and wouldn’t be able to see anything but bluish smoke from the waist up.” 104


Jessica Sperandio Blue Smoke, 2014 detail 1 105


Jessica Sperandio Blue Smoke, 2014 detail 2 106


Jessica Sperandio Blue Smoke, 2014 detail 3 107


I made Change Your Pale Quarrel in 2003. It was one of the first all-digital images (by which I mean shot with digital cameras and printed on digital printers) I made, and part of a series called Macro Hybrids. I had been making combination creatures in my photographs for several years. Those early digital cameras were best at rendering the close up, and so I took some delight in being able to render the essential point of transition from beast to human. When I was invited to exhibit this piece in the show, I started thinking about the image through the lens of the genocide. I remember my mother telling stories of how her family would resort to eating locusts. There was, in fact, an enormous locust plague in the Middle East and North Africa, in the spring of 1915. I found this quote in The Armenian Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, 1915-1916, by Wolfgang Gust, Berghahn books, 2014: October 1916 In Hama I found 7,000 deported, three thousand of them hungry, and practically naked. Here there is no grass, for the locusts have consumed everything. The people were gathering locusts and eating them raw or cooked. Others were looking for the roots of grasses. From an intermediary agent, reporting to Beatrice Rohner, a German missionary in the Middle East. 108


Aida Laleian Change Your Pale Quarrel, 2003, 2015 UV ink on silk fabric, fabricated into roller shades, mounted in gallery window 52 x 25.5 inches 109


Aida Laleian Change Your Pale Quarrel, 2003, 2015 installation detail 110


Aida Laleian Change Your Pale Quarrel, 2003, 2015 photo credit: Aida Laleian

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Voices incorporates period photographs with interviews of three survivors of the Armenian Genocide and one survivor of the Greek Genocide. These mass murders of innocent civilians between 1915 and 1923 in Turkey claimed the lives of 1.5 million Armenians and 1 million Greek and Assyrian citizens. The Turkish government still has not officially recognized these crimes against humanity. 112


Apo Torosyan Voices, 2007 00:15:05 minutes, looped DVD photo credit: Apo Torosyan

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Apo Torosyan Voices, 2007 film still 1 114


Apo Torosyan Voices, 2007 film still 2 115


Apo Torosyan Voices, 2007 film still 3 116


Apo Torosyan Voices, 2007 film still 4 117


Armenia (Hayasdan) was created in remembrance of the victims and survivors of 1915. It pays tribute to the richness and resilience of the 3,000 year old Armenian culture and is a reminder of the continuing struggle to stop genocides. The semi-abstract landscape painting includes images and text drawn from Armenian history and culture—illuminated manuscripts, ancient maps, church architecture—as well as the artist’s own family history and artifacts. At the base of the painting are two open hands, a gesture the artist remembers from her grandmother, whose needle lace is also included in the work. The names of many of Armenian communities that were obliterated are presented in both Western Armenian and English, and are oriented as if in an ancient T-O map, with east to the top, north to the left, and so on. The view of Ararat is from the west and the central geometric form and heavenly dome/compass rose reference the architectural floor plan of Etchmiazin Cathedral (Republic of Armenia). The celestrial beast (upper left) is from an illuminated manuscript, but also refers to the bull in Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica, a painting created in response to the 1937 aerial bombing of a civilian population in Spain. Armenia (Hayasdan) is the same size as Guernica. 118


Jackie Kazarian Armenia (Hayasdan), 2015 acrylic on canvas 137.25 x 305.5 inches photo credit: James Prinz

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Jackie Kazarian, Armenia (Hayasdan), 2015 121


Jackie Kazarian Armenia (Hayasdan), 2015 (detail 1) photo credit: James Prinz

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Jackie Kazarian Armenia (Hayasdan), 2015 (detail 2)

photo credit: James Prinz

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The Forgiveness series is part of Project 1915, a multi-faceted project honoring the victims and survivors of the Armenian Genocide. While researching Armenian history and culture, and reflecting on the stories and recollections of my grandparents, who were genocide survivors, I was compelled to examine the sadness, anger and despair that I’d inherited. Wishing to move beyond these feelings led me to think about the possibility of forgiveness. The Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide has been described as a festering wound and as a final act of genocide. So, for many within the Armenian diaspora, forgiveness is a difficult and complicated task. In Simon Weisenthal’s book of essays, Sunflower: the Question of Forgiveness, many writers suggest that the ancestors of victims do not have the right to forgive. Unfortunately, the book doesn’t include essays by Armenians. Why? Are apology and acknowledgement necessary prerequisites for forgiveness? Who and what would be forgiven? The Forgiveness series includes images drawn from the Armenian illuminated manuscripts. Some of the studies include the Armenian word “ներել,” forgive, but I later settled on the word “ներում,” forgiveness, because forgiving is a personal act and one of volition. 124


Jackie Kazarian Forgiveness 2, 2014 watercolor, gouache, paper 11.75 x 11.75 inches photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

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Jackie Kazarian Forgiveness 4, 2014 watercolor, gouache, paper 11.75 x 11.75 inches photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

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Jackie Kazarian Armenia Map 2, 2014 watercolor, paper 11.75 x 11.75 inches

photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

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Jackie Kazarian Father 1915, 2014 watercolor ink, gouache, paper 11.75 x 11.75 inches photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

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Jackie Kazarian Forgiveness 5, 2014 watercolor, paper 11.75 x 11.75 inches

photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

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Jackie Kazarian Forgiveness 6, 2014 watercolor, paper 11.75 x 11.75 inches

photo credit: Tom Van Eynde

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Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia

Part 3 Exhibition Installation


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Der Artist’s Zor Diary: Bios

A Pilgrimage to the Killing Fields of the Armenian Genocide


John Avakian received a B.F.A and M.F.A. in painting and a minor in printmaking from Yale School of Art. He has enrolled in monotype/ monoprint courses at the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA) every semester from 1990 to 2012. He has taught design classes at Northeastern University, Pair College of Art and the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Avakian has been a consistent visiting critic at Massachusetts College of Art’s painting classes since 1998. He has lectured on his printmaking techniques and work, and the paper-litho method of printing, at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and Holy Cross College. Since 1989, Avakian has been developing a hybrid monoprintmaking technique, which combines digital scanning and photo-imaging along with the monotype and paper-litho plate-making processes. Avakian’s prints, due to their one-of-a-kind nature, blend a painterly attitude with printmaker’s technologies. But unlike traditional printmaking, Avakian is not an edition-based printmaker. Rather, he is a serial monoprint artist, dedicated to developing theme-based bodies of work. Avakian’s series work spans many areas of content, including portraiture, family history, themes of social justice and an extensive exploration of the Armenian Genocide. Avakian has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Weiss Sisters prize for the best print in show at the New Haven Paint & Clay Club; 1st prize print for the 10th and 11th Annual Blanche Ames National Art Exhibitions; and 2nd prize print, Fitchburg Art Museum, MGNE 2nd National Monotype/Monoprint Exhibition. Avakian has had solo exhibitions at the Attleboro Arts Museum, Providence College, and the University of the Arts printmaking department. His monoprints have been in numerous national and regional juried shows. Avakian’s prints, drawings, and paintings are in many private collections, and in the collections of the Fogg Art Museum, the New York and Boston Public Libraries, and the New Haven Paint & Clay Club.

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Gail Boyajian received her BA from Tufts University in 1970 with a double major in fine art and philosophy. She received her Masters of Architecture from MIT in 1976 and practiced architecture in Boston and New York. She taught Architecture at Phillips Academy from 2001-2012. Byuajian has exhibited her paintings in Boston, Vermont, New York and Ireland. Her work is in a number of private, institutional and museum collections, and she has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. http://www.gailboyajian.net Adrienne Der Marderosian explores themes of memory, gender and identity in her work. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Tufts University in Medford, MA and has studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. Her work has been widely exhibited in both national and regional exhibitions in museum, gallery and university venues. Select exhibitions include Off The Wall, Danforth Art, Framingham, MA; Drawing Out Of Bounds, Wheaton College, Norton, MA; Fragile Navigation, Danforth Art, Framingham, MA and The 2nd Annual Art Competition, Hammond Museum, North Salem, New York. She is the recipient of numerous grants including a Massachusetts Cultural Council Professional Development Grant as well as multiple Local Cultural Council awards. The artist’s works can be found in both public and private collections. Jackie Kazarian’s paintings, drawings, installations and video have been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide, including New York, Chicago, Miami, Pasadena, Spain, Japan and Syria. Her paintings often suggest a human condition or feeling and are known for their vivid colors and brushwork. Kazarian taught painting and drawing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for 10 years and has served on advisory committees for Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Chicago Park District. Her work is in


many private and public collections, including the Chicago Police Department and the US Embassy in Armenia. Kazarian’s large-scale installations and videos that have been used in dance performances for The Seldoms and 58 Group, Chicago. In 2010, Kazarian represented the US as a visiting artist for the State Department in Syria, where she presented solo exhibitions and taught painting workshops in Damascus and Latakia. Kazarian is a 2008 fellow of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women & Gender in the Arts & Media at Columbia College, and a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA) and Duke University (BS). She lives and works in Chicago. http://jackiekazarian.com Aida Laleian was born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1955, to Armenian parents. She immigrated to Chicago in 1960 and was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BFA 1978) and the University of California, Davis (MFA 1980). After teaching at a number of liberal arts colleges, in 1987 she settled in Williamstown, MA, with her husband Steve Levin where they each hold part-time tenured positions in the art department at Williams College. Trained in painting, drawing and printmaking, Laleian found photography while studying at SAIC and has been working with, looking at, and thinking about the medium ever since. Laleian also works with moving images, making and teaching 16mm film and video. Despite the fact that Laleian came of age in the time of conceptualism, increasingly, she has grown to embrace the art object. Laleian is interested in pushing at the boundaries between one of a kind works of art and an art form that is inherently reproducible: “Digital photography liberates the image from the page and allows for it to exist in forms hitherto unimaginable in analog photography. I have become quite wedded to exploring those opportunities, as I am currently printing on canvas and embroidering my photographs. I started this work in 2002 and have completed three pieces, with two in progress. This work is ridiculously time-consuming and

detail-oriented. The irony of using an infinitely reproducible medium to create a one-of-a-kind, laboriously crafted object is not lost on me. In fact, I fancy it.” http://sites.williams.edu/alaleian/ Yefkin Megherian served in public education for 19 years, 7 of which were as an art teacher of elementary school children. She is a grandmother of 9 and great-grandmother of 2. Her career as a sculptor began when she enrolled in an adult class in sculpture at Queensborough Community College in New York City in 1985. Her background led her to use Armenian themes and notable Armenian personalities in her work, particularly as bronze medallions, bas-reliefs, and portrait busts. She is a member of AMSA (American Medallic Sculpture Association) and FIDEM, an international medallic organization, and has exhibited her medallions in many juried shows and earned awards for her portrait busts. Her statue of Pope John Paul II is in the Vatican collection, and one of her medals is in the collection of the British Museum. She has also served as a consultant on the design of the doors of St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in New York City. The model of the St. Sahag and St. Mesrob relief exhibited at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown, MA, and which is now in ALMA’s permanent collection, was cast in bronze and mounted in the nave of St. Peter Armenian Church in Watervliet, NY in 2003. Kevork Mourad was born in 1970 in Syria. Of Armenian origin, he received his MFA from the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia, and he now lives and works in New York. Six of his pieces are in permanent residency at the Gyumri Museum in Armenia, and several more at the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts. As part of group shows, his pieces were exhibited at the NYU Small Works Gallery in 2005 and 2007, and his digital piece, The Map of Future Movements, toured as part of a group 169


exhibition in Jerusalem and Ramallah and was in the 2010 Liverpool Biennial. He has had solo exhibitions at Gallery Z in Providence, RI, and at JK Gallery in Los Angeles. He is represented in the Middle East by Rafia Gallery in Damascus, Syria, where he exhibited in 2009. His solo exhibition was also shown at the Courtyard Gallery in Dubai in 2010. Five of his pieces are in the permanent collection on the 70 th floor of the Bourj Khalife in Dubai. He has had work auctioned twice at Christie’s Dubai. With his technique of spontaneous painting, where he shares the stage with musicians—a collaboration in which art and music develop in counterpoint to each other—he has worked with many world class musicians. Among them are Kinan Azmeh, Ezequiel Viñao, Tambuco, Brooklyn Rider, Mari Kimura, Ken Ueno, Liubo Borissov, Eve Beglarian, Rami Khalife, Maya Trio, SYOTOS, Song Fusion, and Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, of which he is a member as a visual artist. He has performed at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Chelsea Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Chess Festival of Mexico City, The Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art in Yerevan, Le Festival du Monde Arabe in Montreal, the Stillwater Festival, the Nara Museum in Japan, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Rubin Museum of Art, Harvard University, the American Museum of Natural History, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Central Park’s Summerstage with the Silk Road Ensemble and Bobby McFerrin. As a teaching artist with the Silk Road, he has worked with public school students throughout the five boroughs of New York, and has been called back many times as a favorite visiting artist. In 2010 and 2011, with actress/singer Anaïs Tekerian of Zulal, he coproduced and created two plays, Tangled Yarn and Waterlogged, which premiered at the New York International Fringe Festival and toured San Francisco and the Berkshires. His most recent show was in the Lincoln Center Atrium in NYC, with composer Ezequiel Viñao. http://www.kevorkmourad.com/km/home.html 170

Marsha Nouritza Odabashian, the grandchild of Armenian immigrants and genocide survivors, received her primary and secondary education in the Boston area. Odabashian studied at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, the University of New Orleans, the Art Students’ League in New York, and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts/Tufts in Boston, from which she received a Master of Fine Arts degree. She has taught drawing courses at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has taught art in the Westwood Public Schools for over 14 years. She has exhibited in various galleries and museums, including at Galatea Fine Arts and the Bromfield Gallery in Boston, Gallery Z in Providence, Rhode Island, the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts, the Danforth Museum in Framingham, Massachusetts, and the Village Quill in Tribeca. Her current work explores themes of identity, pictoriality and iconographic traditions. Her work has been reviewed in Art Slant, Artscope (‘Blasts’), The Providence Journal (‘Best Bets’), Art New England, The Boston Globe, and Armenian Art Magazine (published in Yerevan, Armenia). Two of her paintings from the In the Shade of the Peacock series, Exile and Habits of Civilization, have been featured in Studio Visit magazine, vol. 5. http://www.marshaodabashian.com Jessica Sperandio explores presence, absence, and what lies in between. She explores narrative, social, and cultural issues through material and historical research. Jessica is an Armenian-Italian American who has been documenting family history through stories and memories that have been passed along about the Armenian Genocide. This is an effort to preserve what is left of her Armenian family heritage. She is an MFA graduate of MassArt’s Interdisciplinary Art program. http://www.jessicasperandio.com Apo Torosyan was born in Istanbul, Turkey, to Armenian and Greek parents. He holds Bachelor’s


and Master’s degrees from Istanbul’s Academy of Fine Arts. His previous films include Bread Series, Water, The Gates, Witnesses, Discovering My Father’s Village: Edincik, and Voices. He is an active member of the Boston Printmakers and the International Association of Genocide Scholars. Since 1986, he has had many solo and group shows all over the US and Europe, and his work has appeared in private and corporate collections in Turkey, Greece, Spain, France, Armenia, Canada, and the US His art works are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art at Tonneins, Bordeaux, France; the Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA; Ararat Eskijian Museum in Los Angeles, CA; Armenian Western Diocese in Burbank, CA; A.G.B.U. Manoogian Collection, Montreal, Canada; Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT; Flaten Art Museum in Northfield, MN and Florida Holocaust Museum, St. Petersburg, FL. http://www.chgs.umn.edu/museum/responses/ torosyan/ http://www.aramaifilms.com

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Profile for Thompson Gallery

Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia 3  

The final show in the Kiss the Ground series "A New Armenia" examines and celebrates contemporary Armenian art, one hundred years after the...

Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia 3  

The final show in the Kiss the Ground series "A New Armenia" examines and celebrates contemporary Armenian art, one hundred years after the...

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