Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900)
“The Battle of Sinop” (1853)
Oil on canvas
The Battle of Sinop was a naval battle that occured on November 30, 1853, at Sinop, a sea port in northern Anatolia. A squadron of Imperial Russian warships struck and destroyed a squadron of Ottoman ships anchored in the harbor. The battle was part of the Crimean War, and a contributory factor in bringing France and Great Britain into the conflict. This was also the last major battle between fleets of sailing ships. The battle is commemorated in Russia as a Day of Military Honour.
So, when creating my piece for 1001 Knights I decided to do something more on the serious side (compared to my commercial work for animation). Because the theme was “Knights” with a skew towards feminism, the first thing that came to my mind was the legacy of women in my own life. I wanted to create a piece that honored the women I’m related to that made me who I am but also the overarching history of women in my life and my cultural heritage.
My mother is Armenian and my great grand parents came to the United States fleeing genocide in Armenia. For me, I have learned everything about my Armenian identity from my mother and relatives on her side of the family. My mother’s great grandfather was a muralist in Armenia and Turkey and I can trace my artistic abilities from him, to my grandmother and eventually my own mother who is also an artist. It’s something very special to me to know that the talents in my family have come down through my mother’s relatives in Armenia. Growing up, it was my mother who taught me how to be an artist and encouraged me to pursue my career in art. I strongly identify my artistic abilities with my mother and my Armenian heritage so it seemed like the perfect place to start for my piece.
As far as where the strength and honor of a knight comes in, my mom was the strongest, and bravest person I knew growing up. She raised me, my 3 brothers and sister together for as a single mom before remarrying and becoming a mother to twin girls at the age of 42. Throughout the years she remained a source of strength for my family, unselfishly sacrificing her time for all of 7 of us plus my two step-brothers. These days she is still the matriarch of the family. Her home is the center of holidays and important family events and all 6 of her grandkids admire and adore her. She is also so experienced as a mother that the younger moms in my family go to her for advice in raising their own kids.
Now, I can see her legacy being passed on to her own daughters and daughters-in-law as they raise their daughters in the same loving and sacrificial way. Seeing this unfold over my lifetime has been a true blessing and has really impacted me. And within the larger story of the other women in my family, it only seemed fitting that I honor these modern day women warriors with a piece of their own.
You will see that I was strongly influenced by some of my favorite artists including a direct quote of Gustav Klimt’s piece Palas Atenea. I’ve also paid homage to Henri Matisse as well as beautiful Armenian rugs, folk art and traditional costume. Yes, I threw it all in there. :D
Now you know a bit more about the many layered meaning of this very special piece for the 1001 Knights anthology. You only have a few more days to contribute and get your copy before it’s gone, so hurry!