Armenian Museum Collaborative Exhibit Examines Celebration and Remembrance

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WATERTOWN — The Armenian Museum of America, together with the Thompson Gallery of The Cambridge School of Weston, presents a new exhibition, “Kiss the Ground — A New Armenia, Part I,” on view from December 7, through January 20, 2015.

There will be an opening reception on Sunday, December 7, from 2 to 5 p.m., in the Adele & Haig Der Manuelian Galleries on the third floor of the Armenian Museum. There will be a dramatic reading by Cambridge School students of Elliot Baker’s The Past Is Not Past, at 3 p.m. Participating at the reception will be the artists Gail Boyajian, Aida Laleian, Adrienne Der Marderosian, Talin Megherian, Yefkin Megherian, Kevork Mourad, Marsha Odabashian and Jessica Sperandio. Light refreshments will be served. Admisisons are free, but donations will be welcomed.

“Kiss the Ground” takes its name from the etymology of one of the Armenian words for “worship.” The word “yergurbakootyoon” translates literally to mean, “kissing the ground,” but means total submission — voluntary or involuntary. A gesture of the body, such as laying face down on the ground, is an act of deep veneration. The Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Church, points out, “words and thoughts alone cannot express all that we believe;” nor can they express all that the Armenian people have endured and that is why the gesture is one that requires great effort.

“Kiss the Ground” is a five-part exhibition series centering on the art of 12 Armenian artists. In unison, the groupings of artists and exhibitions examine and highlight contemporary Armenian art at a particular moment in history, organized to coincide with the centennial commemoration of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. At its core, the series is catalyzed by the contrast between celebration and remembrance.

Collectively, the works in “Kiss the Ground—A New Armenia” juxtapose complicated issues for consideration, in which beauty often comingles with austerity. As the title of the series implies, veneration requires effort. But such exertion also results in the recognition of a new experience, a new understanding, a new Armenia.

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