YEREVAN — April had started with rain in Yerevan, one wet day after another, and the organizers of the My Way Center prayed for sunshine. On April 6, the day they had chosen for the event, board member Sona Petrosyan, looked up at the cloudy sky that morning and said to herself, “Dear God, please send us some sunshine around noon.” Right then a dove spread its wings and flew towards her, then soared gracefully up to the sky, and she said to herself, that must be a good omen.
Indeed it was. The weather turned out to be perfect for an outdoor celebration of World Autism Awareness Day. In late 2007, the United Nations General Assembly passed and adopted a resolution establishing the annual observance. Its aims are to raise awareness about autism, and contribute to research, diagnosis, treatment and acceptance of autism, which often develops very early in children and as yet has no cure.
This year, the theme treated in the events held worldwide was “Inclusion in the Workplace.” At the My Way Socio-Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Day Care Center, the “workplace” was the creative arena and the “work” was music and art.
Thanks to the friendly weather, organizers were able to set up their performance area outdoors in a spacious garden between the two large buildings that house the classrooms where the youngsters receive therapy and training. Tents were pitched, for musicians and audience, chairs placed all around, together with colorful “bean bags” also for sitting. Opposite these were paintings exhibited on easels, about 60 in all.
The paintings are the work of Edwin Hovsepyan, a 17-year-old young man who has been attending My Way for four years and studying at the Terlemezyan State College of Fine Arts for three years. His mother, Armine Hovsepyan, discovered his talent when he was only 2 ½ years old, and has dedicated her life to nurturing the further development of his skills. He has already held several exhibitions and it was time to schedule this one to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day. Complementing the visual art was music, in the form of an inclusive concert, featuring professional musicians together with My Way amateur singers and instrumentalists.
“Our guests,” Petrosyan said, “admired the saturated yet tender colors of Edwin’s works; there were sunny landscapes and still lifes, and many of them will brighten the homes of new owners.” The proceeds from sales of the works, organized online and at the event, will go to the artist’s mother, and will cover his travel expenses to the center and to college, as well as acquisition of materials.