Interview from Boston Voyager
How did you get to where you are today?
I decided after my undergraduate degree in studio art to pursue architecture so I could make money in the field. I learned quickly that it takes a long time to be able to be creative in the field, if ever. I realized this after a year of school and an internship while at the Boston Architectural College. I transferred to an art education program so my creative interests could be fulfilled while mentoring students.
There was still something missing. My own in-depth study of art, which I pursued at MassArt after teaching for 6 years helped me sort through my need for voice and documentation. I knew my Armenian family history was not documented and it was a story that was fleeting with time. My grandmother was 88 when I began recording stories she’d heard from her parents who rarely spoke about it. Due to the time that had passed and memory recall, some things didn’t always line up with other family members’ recollections. There were parts missing completely too. This is when I began to cut away parts of my illustrations which I was hand cutting on paper at the time. I then began putting my illustrations that were cut into Photoshop to distort them using the warp tool. This was a very time consuming and tedious process to make a work on paper that was fragile and could rip or get ruined fairly easily. This is why I began laser cutting material.
After documenting my family history and equating missing information to cut or missing pieces, I realized this is a common thread in the human condition. Rarely do we know the full story when events happen and we have to process and make sense of what we see and hear, especially in the media. This is where the social and political divide is most prevalent. Understanding the full history of our country is necessary for understanding issues that arise today.
The current work is documenting marches and media. It seems like gathering has always been a way to make a seemingly powerless voice heard, and therefore giving it power. Black Lives Matter, Women’s Rights, Immigration are all issues that need attention and lack it from the current government.
What surprised me the most at the march was the signs and the determination to hold the signs. The creativity of the signage was incredible along with the efforts made to duct tape pockets and other contraptions to hold the signs for hours. The effort to share a voice or have a voice was evident. This is a group of people that have never seen a reflection of themselves in control of the United States. I felt the need to document the hands of need, want and determination.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Ha! It’s always been a challenge to make art while working full time. I think you make a lot of social sacrifices in your 20s to stay home and make work instead of going out. In my 30s, it’s been easier with many friends starting families and therefore having their time-limited.
As far as financially, it has and still is a struggle due to a ridiculous amount of student loans. I am laser cutting about once a year since it is expensive and I don’t have the extra money to do. It is undoubtedly a financial risk to make my work this way. I have fallen for the technology and illustration pair though, it is my guilty pleasure. I think what sets me apart is my traditional, drawing, technique altered by technology. I use Illustrator to make the files to cut. The cutwork is probably what I am most known for.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
Visibility. It is hard to believe in things happening that you haven’t seen. Our history revolves around male accomplishments.