FRESNO — Author Sato Moughalian will speak on “David Ohannessian and the Armenian Ceramics of Jerusalem” on Tuesday, January 28, at 7:30 p.m., in the University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium, Room 191, on the Fresno State campus.
The talk is the first in the Spring Lecture Series of the Armenian Studies Program and is supported by the Leon S. Peters Foundation.
Along the cobbled streets and golden walls of Jerusalem, brilliantly glazed tiles catch the light and beckon the eye. These colorful wares — known as Armenian ceramics — are iconic features of the Holy City. Silently, these works of ceramic art — an art that graces homes and museums around the world — also represent a riveting story of resilience and survival.
In 1919, David Ohannessian, Moughalian’s grandfather, founded the art of Armenian ceramics in Jerusalem, where his work and that of his followers is now celebrated as a local treasure. Born in an isolated Anatolian mountain village, Ohannessian mastered a centuries-old art form in Kütahya, witnessed the rise of violent nationalism in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, endured arrest and deportation in the Armenian Genocide, founded a new tradition in Jerusalem under the British Mandate, and spent his final years, uprooted once again, in Cairo and Beirut.
Moughalian will detail the lineage of Ohannessian’s ceramic tradition and document the critical roles his deportation and his own agency played in its transfer — aspects of the story obscured in the art historical narrative. She will speak about the process of coming to terms with her family’s past, the ways in which that served as an impetus to excavate and reconstruct her grandfather’s history through archival research, and the importance of preserving the stories of peoples displaced through migration.