In honor of the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, today I will post pictures of some incredibly talented Armenian artists. This is Arshile Gorky (Ոստանիկ Մանուկ Ադոեան) one of my favourite abstract expressionist artists 1904-1948
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!
Portrait of a Veiled Woman with Pearls Hovsep Pushman (Armenian/American, 1877-1966) Framed oil on canvas 14” x 9”
Hovsep Pushman was born Hovsep Pushminian in Tigranakert (Silvan) now present-day Turkey. Pushman showed artistic ability early, and at age 11 was the youngest student ever admitted to Istanbul’s Imperial School of Fine Arts. However, continual political persecutions suffered by the Armenians under Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamed, forced the Pushman family (Hovsep, his parents and siblings) to emigrate to the United States in 1896. They settled in Chicago and became United States Citizens. Pushman entered classes at the Smith Academy, where at the unprecedented age of 17, he also began to teach. He was known for his contemplative still lifes and portraits of women, often in exotic dress.