I was born in 1960, in Yerevan, Armenia, but spoke little Armenian and what I did speak was Western Armenian. As a young child, I always wondered why I came from such an exotic background when my father was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and my mother was from Lyon, France. Only after years of hearing stories did I realize that I was the product of two Armenian Diasporan repatriate children, who were compelled by their father and mother’s Hayrenik (fatherland) to leave one cultural and ideological ground for another.
The 1947 and 1948 Armenian repatriation uprooted many under an outward show of prosperity in the land of their forefathers. But where they were heading toward was a “Sovietized” Armenia under Stalin. It was a migratory event complete with personal and spiritual dispossession, and cultural contrasts. As an artist and the daughter of repatriated youth, I want to document and artistically interpret the culture shock, loss of freedom, and the ideological turmoil that shaped this historical time in Armenia for the “akhbars.”
I have just begun this artistic historical journey. Thus far I have collected over 30 black and white images of repatriate children from family photographs taken in Armenia from 1947 to 1966. I plan to use these photographic images to interpret cultural and economic issues through drawings, paintings, and mixed media. I have also been collecting short anecdotal stories that help narrate the circumstances and emotions of the people and of the times. I am interested in collecting more, so if you are a repatriate or know of a repatriate, who is interested in my project, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “repatriate project” in the subject line.
I would be pleased to discuss my project with you in greater detail.