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Bertha & John Garabedian Foundation Grant Renewed

Staff Report

For the fifth consecutive year,the Bertha and John Garabedian Charitable Foundation has awarded Prof. Dickran Kouymjian and the Armenian Studies Program a grant for on-going projects. Thanks to previous grants, Armenian Studies has been able to engage students skilled in computer technology to develop a special site on the World Wide Web: http://csufresno.edu/ArmenianStudies/. The work was started by former student Joseph Krajekian, then mounted on the web by Ara Mekhitarian, who was webmaster until last fall, when Dikran Chekian assumed the role.

page2aJohn Garabedian (1909-1992) was a generous patron of the Armenian Studies Program back in the 1980s. Dr. Kouymjian, Director of the Program, visited him on his farm several times, and Mr. Garabedian returned the visits to the campus. During the fund drive for the Haig and Isabel Berberian Endowed Chair in Armenian Studies, John Garabedian pledged $100,000, half of which he contributed before his death. The Armenian Studies offices are named in his honor and a special plaque commemorating the gift can be viewed on the third floor of the Leon S. Peters Business Building, which houses the Center for Armenian Studies and the Program offices.

Thanks to the Garabedian grants, dozens of students have benefited over the years from special research grants to work on the Index of Armenian Art, an ongoing project whose purpose is to collect all examples of medieval Armenian art from both published and unpublished sources. Part I of the IAA, Armenian Manuscript Illumination, has been in progress since the early 1970s. Originally the completed set from all Armenian manuscripts to the year 1000 was issued in a booklet in 1977 and those of the 11th century were published in tabular form in 1979. With the aid of a previous Garabedian Foundation grant, the miniatures from the 9th through the 11th century were put on an interactive CD ROM disk. But the advent of the web quickly made this technology less useful than mounting the information and pictures on a website.

Also thanks to a Garabedian Foundation grant, Prof. Kouymjian’s entire book, The Arts of Armenia, published by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon, Portugal in 1992 was put on the Armenian Studies website along with 300 color slides of all phases of Armenian art. The text and the images are now regularly used by students in Armenian Studies courses, especially AS 20, The Arts of Armenia, AS 121 Armenian Miniature Painting, and AS 123, Armenian Architecture.

This year’s grant will all work to continue on two international exhibits being organized by Dickran Kouymjian. The first will be held at the Museum of Art and History in Geneva, Switzerland starting in the fall of 2001. It will exhibit for the first time the “Treasures of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia.” Already this spring a special team of students has scanned slides of the objects from Dr. Kouymjian’s collection onto a CD disk for use in the writing of the catalogue. The second exhibition will open at the Textile Museum in Lyon, France on December 15, 2001 and run for three months. Its subject is “Armenian Altar Curtains from the Collection of Holy Etchmiadzin.” It too will have a special illustrated catalogue. Both projects are part of the 1700th anniversary celebration of the conversion of Armenia to Christianity.

Thanks in part to the Bertha and John Garabedian Foundation grant, Professor Kouymjian will be able to have some free time from teaching to continue to study the objects in both exhibits and to describe each item individually including the complete inscriptions usually found on all Armenian liturgical objects. Both exhibits have separate teams of international experts in textiles, metalwork, miniature painting, and early printing.

The Garabedian Foundation provided 76 individual grants to Valley organizations and projects for the year 2000 totaling nearly half a million dollars. The Armenian Studies Program is deeply grateful to the Foundation and its Trustees: Silvestre Arias, Glenn E. Rose, Malcolm H. Stewart, and Dr. H. Tookoian.