Fruits of my Labor is my latest painting. The skyline is of Mt. Ararat and Little Mt. Ararat or Masis. I love the history of my country especially when reading the Old Testament story of Noah’s Ark coming to rest on the top of Mt. Ararat at 16,000 feet. There is no access to the mountain from Armenia since Turkey claimed this territory after the tragedy of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. I look at this mountain range, painted in a muddy blend of cobalt and iron oxide. Its darkness reminds me of this Genocide and many others.
Since finishing Dawn Anahid MacKeen’s book The Hundred Year Walk; an Armenian Odyssey, I’m visualizing this journey. I also watched the movies: Caliphate (Netflix) and Bagdad Central (Hulu) filmed in Syria and Morocco. The landscape is desolate and barren, the sun intense with stinging sand storms. I picture my ancestors traveling miles on foot without water and food on the famous death march to Syria all the while, wondering if they would live another day. The few survivors who made it did so with prayer and God given miracles. I am humbled by their perseverance and resilience as they faced such atrocities.
Fruits of my labor depicts images of hope and new beginnings. I painted lacy dollies and fruit to portray both the feminine and masculine labors of my people. The women crocheted lace dollies; many used as protectors on arm chairs. Others were lavishly intricate mandala like shapes framed as art. The men worked the land, planting many fruit and nut trees. Two popular fruits in Armenia are the Pomegranate; which is the country’s national fruit and Apricots; a favorite in all it’s forms: fresh, dried, or as jam rolled in plain lavosh bread. The Saint painted represents Hripsime, who died a martyr for her Christian faith, in the 3rd century.
I think of my ancestors’ creativity and strength and as an Armenian descendant claim it for myself.