WATERTOWN – On Tuesday, April 24, the Armenian Museum of America held a joint commemoration of the Armenian Genocide and opening of a new exhibition. At 6 p.m. the Museum opened to welcome visitors into the first-floor gallery, where the exhibition halls were lit by candle light. With the historic changes currently occurring in Armenia, visitors were encouraged to reflect on the past, present, and future of the country and their shared heritage.
“We really wanted to invite the Armenian and non-Armenian community into the galleries to observe this important day, open our new show, and to let people know about the new gallery we are renovating that will tell the powerful story of Armenian history through the unique objects in our collection,” said Jennifer Liston Munson, the new Executive Director at the Museum.
At 7 p.m., the conversation continued in the third-floor contemporary galleries with the opening of Skins, an exhibition featuring the work of Marsha Nouritza Odabashian. Born to Armenian parents in Boston, Massachusetts, Odabashian shared her childhood bedroom with her grandmother—somehow absorbing her experience of the Genocide by occupying that space as they slept. The intuitive rawness of Odabahsian’s work seeks to connect with that buried pain by materializing an unspoken history. By applying traditional Armenian onion skin dyes to textured paper, she reveals the hidden bruises and marks that lie within. Her surface drawings trace a more deliberate narrative connecting personal experience to historical record. The finished pieces serve as visual recovery rooted in the creative desire to challenge the darker impulses of human nature and history.
In addition to Odabashian’s works on paper, low relief sculpture from the Reliquaries series is hung in the gallery. This series was inspired by the stone carvings on the 10th century Armenian cathedral of Aght’amar and the magical drawings of Armenian illuminated manuscripts. Reliquaries is dedicated to the memory of Genocide victims and survivors, and evokes both the fragility and monumentality of memory.
Visitors explored the works on display, then were treated to an engaging talk by the artist. A lively question and answer session followed, which demonstrated that there is much for visitors to connect to within the works.