CLEVELAND, Ohio — The St. Gregory of Narek parish of Cleveland Ohio for the second consecutive year held a painting workshop for children and adults. With the success of last year’s workshop The Art of Identity, the painting of Armenian decorative capital letter, once again Yeretzgin Naira Azatyan Sargsyan organized this year’s program of painting Armenian illuminated Icons.
Father Hratch Sargsyan, pastor of St. Gregory of Narek, welcomed the children and introduced them to the day’s workshop leader Father Garabed Kochakian, an art historian and iconographer himself and the retired pastor of St. John Armenian Church of Greater Detroit.
Kochakian holds a master’s degree in Armenian Art and Architecture and offers such workshops and lectures about the Sacred Arts and Architecture of the Armenians. With this year’s gathering for 17 excited students he challenged their artistic skill by leading a day long activity painting, as the monks and scribes did centuries ago, miniature icons.
He first presented a Powerpoint explanation about iconography and the sacred art of painting in the Armenian Christian tradition. He then focused on four particular images from Holy Week and Easter explaining their stories, pointing out particular features in the icons, and discussing color and design. Before the painting session, Kochakian demonstrated how to mix and apply paints, the order of painting the figures, garments and features within the icons; actually showing them with his artistic hand just how the monks painted. Following the demonstration the students returning to their tables embarked upon their tasks of painting.
He led them all as they prayed in unison, the prayer Uzkordus tseratz merotz/ O Look upon the works of our hands.
At the conclusion of the four-hour session, the group gathered to display their work. Kochakian encouraged them as part of their Holy Week preparation for Easter, they were to finish their icons at home with their paints and brushes and bring them to church on Easter for Rev. Sargsyan to bless.