And the Universe Goes Mad 2022 Oil, cold wax, mixed media on panel, 24 x 30 in
I have been working steadily as a painter for ten years, educating myself through self-guided study and workshops. My path to becoming an artist has included the practice of law, environmental non-profit work, and a career teaching pilates and Gyrotonic®. Each has contributed to my development: the discipline to maintain a daily studio practice, the ability to conceive and communicate a message; an eye for balance in a composition; and a tactile awareness and ability to construct and deconstruct movement all inform my approach to a work surface.
Concepts of refuge and belonging as antidotes to a sense of displacement and otherness are shadow themes in my work that I expect to develop more intentionally. I am in the lineage of a diaspora: my Armenian grandparents survived two waves of genocide before fleeing to Iraq, with my father eventually settling them in the US. I came of age struggling with a sense of fractured identity and anxiety amidst family secrets and unspoken tragedies, likely the products of generational trauma. My work often references nature and music as vehicles for a particular idea, emotion, message or memory because from a young age I created my own refuge by being in the woods and found a sense of self in music and in art. I was always drawing and was obsessed with calligraphy.
Formally, my focus has been on building my paintings in a way that mirrors my own curiosity: color being a primary concern along with texture. Varied brushwork, scraping, line and mark making, words and symbols, combining biomorphic and geometric shapes, collage, mixing additives like gemstone powder or ash or coffee grounds into cold wax, buffing, sanding, or carving come together to infuse the surface with history and meaning.
A visit to MoMA in 2011 during their de Kooning retrospective was pivotal, with my key takeaway being his persistent experimentation and how much of the painter himself I felt in what I was seeing, a connection with the viewer I strive to emulate. Other significant painters who influence how I think about and make art are af Klimt, Marc, Kandinsky, Mitchell Frankenthaler, and Diebenkorn. Current artists whose work gives me inspiration for new directions in my own include Elias Sime (Collage/assemblage, Ethiopia), Mandy El-Sayegh (Painting/Collage, UK), Kristen Letts-Kovak (Painting, US), Bharti Kher (multi-disciplinary, UK/India), and Loie Hollowell (Sculptural Painting, US).