Robin Glynn – Staff Writer –
Faculty, staff and students gathered to celebrate the exhibition of Armenian artwork in honor of Mary A. Papazian, the new president of Southern Connecticut State University.
This I Believe: Art As A Salute to Excellence is a collection of artwork from 13 artists of Armenian descent.
The exhibit was organized by Papazian’s friend, curator Vicki Shoghag Hovanessian, and features the work of artists Ashod Bayandour, Arshile Gorky, Sarkis Hamalbashian, Hamlet Hovsepian, Gayane Katchadourian, Vasken Kalayjian, Reuben Nakian, Vahan Rumelian, Ararat Sarkissian, Arthur Sarkissian, Shanoor, Kegham Tazian, and Paul Zenian, according to the Lyman Center.
“It is always nice to have something different to do, and this is one of those special occasions,” said Papazian.
The last week has been a week filled with events to honor Papazian as Southern’s 11th president.
“What has really been wonderful is that each of these events has expressed the spirit of what Southern is as a university,” said Papazian. “We celebrated our graduate students, our undergraduate students, our faculty scholarships, we met with our alumni. We had our ribbon cutting for our new School of Business.”
This exhibit has special meaning for Papazian because she is the first American Armenian woman to serve as president of an American college or university.
“It is a very special one for me for many, many reasons,” said Papazian. “The Armenian people have long been creative. They are artists; their work from the middle ages takes us back to the some of the premiere miniaturists that have ever painted miniatures.”
Papazian said it is exciting to be able to add to the experiences at Southern and that we start from where we know best, which is who we are.
“I am very excited,” said Papazian, “because it is an opportunity to bring together a community [in] which I’ve grown up and a community [in] which I am living and working—and to see how well they go together.”
Hovanessian’s initial response to be involved in such a rare opportunity was three-fold, she said.“First, through such an exhibition I found a method for expressing my utmost respect to Dr. Papazian commitment to education. Second, the exhibition presents paints, drawings and sculptures by 13 Armenian artists—some currently or formally based in Yerevan, while others in the tri-state area: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, one from Illinois, Indiana, two from Michigan.”
Lastly, Hovanessian is thrilled that students and the community of the university will be exposed to this modern and contemporary Armenian art.
Jaclyn Bono, an art education major, enjoyed looking at the exhibit, particularly the focal point of the exhibit, titled “Near East—Encyclopedia of Armenia” by Sarkis Hambalbashian.
Hovanessian said the exhibition intends to provide the potential of the paradox of art and culture, whereby visitors can reflect on their own personal paths through the visual forms that the selected works unfold.
“I think it is a captivating piece because there is so much color and so many different aspects to it,” said Bono. “The artist used different mediums to it. There is some drawings in it, then glue on top of the paint; there is thin parts of the paint and thick parts of the paint.”
Bono noticed how the artist used stamp work and also the use of small and large sized canvases to create a large painting. She said she enjoys the writing that is on the piece, even though you cannot read it.
“Based on the title of the piece,” said Bono, “it really does feel that it captures the culture because there is so much going on and so many element.”
The exhibit runs through Oct. 21 in the Lyman Center.