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I was born in Yerevan, Armenia in 1976. Located at the crossroads of a number of regional civilizations, Armenia benefits from a rich and active cultural heritage. This tradition served as the basis for Armenia’s strong modern art movement during the soviet era. As a child, I was therefore fortunate to study with many contemporary artists working and living in Armenia.
I studied at the National Centre for Fine Arts and Aesthetic Education, specializing in painting, print making and pottery. By the time I graduated, I was teaching graphic arts and printmaking at an innovative and experimental school launched at the time of Armenia’s independence.
I attended the Liberal Arts College with a focus on Art History and Philosophy. In 1999, the Austrian Federal Chancellery awarded me a scholarship to study in Vienna. I participated in the international artist in residence program, and held my first solo exhibition at the Jutner Art Gallery in Vienna. Upon my return to Armenia, I focused on oil painting and exhibiting in local galleries.
I also began to work with socially vulnerable women on transforming their home-based traditional skills to family-supporting incomes. I opened up a small business creating and selling home interior knitwear items – working with more than 10 women living in rural areas of Armenia.
For the past ten years, we have moved as a family, living in Georgia, Haiti and now Canada. Throughout my travels, I have incorporated new cultural and ethnic influences into my work. I have learned and adopted local traditions, cultural markers and contemporary arts.
My first exposure to enameling was during our stay in the country of Georgia, from 2010 to 2012. A Dutch art historian, who upon hearing that I was an artist and interested in cloisonné art, insisted on introducing me, that same day, to her friend who was a well-known local artist. Thus, Ia Gigoshvili became my first enameling teacher.
Since then, I have attended specialized trainings throughout the United States. I was lucky to attend workshops with Linda Darty, Barbara Seidenath and Paulette Werger.
I am inspired by a wide range of sources including Armenian medieval manuscripts, nature and contemporary art objects. The last four years spent in an open-air studio in Haiti, with its vibrant culture and folk art, inspired me to embrace more color, light and character in my works.
In Haiti, I was also able to return to one of my passions: teaching. I taught cloisonné enameling and pottery to international and local Haitian artisans.
For me, the art of enameling is the culmination of a succession of art forms that I have practiced throughout my creative life. In terms of approach, my art has always focused on the line. Lines – whether with my work in ink, knitting yarn, paint or silver cloisonné wires – have found their natural path on paper, canvas, and metals, and has articulating my thoughts and visions.
I am completely absorbed by the successive transformation of my enamel pieces, each step and firing marked by a tweak of the ‘unexpected’ hue or shade. The process itself, whether laying down the cloisonné wires or waiting in front of the kiln, allows me to meditate and connect with a certain alchemic magic.
I am currently living in Montreal, Canada. Finally, having settled down, I feel that I am no longer limited to my “suitcase-studio”. I am working to expand the range of my works and am excited to have come across the Ecole de Joaillerie de Montreal, where I am learning silver-smithing and jewelry design.