Fluid

mixed media

2014-2015

Language connects us, but it can also be a divisional force, keeping people and communities apart. This is a fascinating contradiction and one that is a source of tension in my own life. I grew up in an Armenian immigrant family within the context of a diverse working class community in Los Angeles. My mother worked as a linguist and translator while living in the Soviet Union, fluently speaking Russian, Farsi, and Turkish, as well as her native Armenian. I was used to seeing many alphabets, and the relative familiarity/foreignness of letter forms has become important to my work. 

My heritage, and in particular the Armenian language, is immensely important to who I am. However, I have often felt constricted by a community that is in some ways defined by its insularity. Growing up, I observed members of my community closing themselves off to others, conflating isolation with cultural preservation. This dichotomy of being simultaneously connected and isolated by language and culture is a throughline in the Fluid series.

Rivers are an abundant source of inspiration for me, and in the context of the California drought, this series relates water scarcity to disconnection from one another. The pieces depict rivers through winding inked and sewn lines. I use letter forms as a connective thread, sometimes forming them into landscapes, and often depicting them coming out of the water in an exploration of cultural / physical borders that keep people and communities apart.


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Morning Scroll

Acrylic ink on wood-pulp paper.
156” x 54” | 2015


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Trickle Down

 Collaboration with Amanda Mears
Japanese wood-pulp paper, ink, and thread.
180” x 36” | 2014


Foundations

Acrylic paint and acrylic ink on canvas.
30” x 30” | 2015


Written River

Acrylic paint and acrylic ink on canvas.
48” x 24” | 2015