Award-Winning Artist to Hold Solo Exhibit at the State House in Commemoration of Armenian Genocide

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BOSTON — Nationally exhibited, award-winning artist and Arlington native, Mary Hilt will be featuring a collection of her watercolor portraits titled, “Who Today Remembers? Portraits of Armenian Genocide Survivors” at a solo exhibit April 10 – April 17 at the Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon St., 4th floor outside the House Gallery. The exhibit is free and open to the public during regular State House hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday.

An artist reception will be held on Wednesday, April 12 from 3 to 4 p.m. The exhibit commemorates the 102nd anniversary of the genocide of the Armenians by the Turkish government during World War I.

In 1994, as part of a community history project done in conjunction with the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Hilt, along with a videographer, met with actual survivors of the Armenian Genocide who had settled in Watertown, Belmont and other surrounding cities in Massachusetts to interview them about their individual experiences.

“As the survivors began to share their stories, their lives became written on their faces,” said Hilt. Hilt captured the images in photographs and over the past twenty years has been both inspired and challenged to bring their photographs to life. Last year, Hilt exhibited her watercolor portraits of the survivors at a solo exhibit at the museum.

The name of the exhibit, “Who Today Remembers?” is based on the infamous question asked in 1939 by Adolf Hitler, “Who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians?”

Hilt’s exhibit has ensured through her haunting collection of portraits that the voices, faces, and stories of many who survived the Armenian Genocide will never be forgotten. Each portrait tells a different story of not only unimaginable cruelty and horror suffered at the hands of the Turkish government during the Armenian Genocide, but also one of courage, survival, and triumph of the human spirit. Hilt, who works by creating a mood or a story, said, “I wanted to make the pain they suffered as plain as possible in each portrait. I also wanted to tell an uplifting story, alongside the story of horror.”

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Hilt, a Signature Member of the New England Watercolor Society, one of the oldest and most prestigious watercolor societies in America, recently received the Marshall Joyce Memorial Award for her portrait of Bertha – Survivor of the Armenian Genocide at the New England Watercolor Society’s Signature Members Show held in January at the Guild of Boston Artists. Hilt painted the portraits in watercolor which was a surprise to many of her colleagues.

“People often ask how I could have painted these portraits in watercolor when this subject matter is often heavy, intense and serious. Watercolor, through a process, can be just as dramatic as the subject of the painting,” she said. Hilt’s work has been displayed all over the country. She has exhibited in such venues as the Allied Artist Show at the Arts Club in New York City, the New England Watercolor Society North American Open, and the Manheim Gallery in Cottonwood/Sedona, Arizona. Hilt currently teaches art courses to special needs students at Arlington’s Young Adult Vocational Program.

“It’s very rewarding teaching the students to express themselves and tell their own stories through art,” said Hilt. “Art affects us in many ways. Sometimes it makes us sad, or it can happily transport us for a while. For me, art has great meaning and is inspirational.”