LOWELL, Mass. — As April is International Genocide Month, the Whistler House Museum of Art is planning a Multi-Cultural Genocide exhibition and symposium titled “Pursuing Justice Through Art: 2015.” In conjunction with the symposium, which will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, there will be an art exhibition which will be presented in the Parker Gallery. The exhibition runs from March 18 to April 25, where works of art will be displayed by artists whose themes are rooted in genocide and holocaust memories and commemoration. The opening reception for the exhibition will take place on Saturday, March 21 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The year 2015 is significant in genocide history. It is the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the 70th anniversary of the end of the Jewish Holocaust, and the 40th anniversary of the Cambodian Genocide.
The word “genocide” was coined in 1944 to name a particularly shocking and horrific crime of violence. It was hoped it would never happen again. Genocide is the systematic and widespread extermination or attempted extermination of an entire national, racial, religious, or ethnic group. Genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law.
More than 262 million people throughout the world were murdered as a result of genocide in the 20th century. Armenian, German, Cambodian, Bosnian, Guatemalan, Rwandan, Sudanese and Native Americans are only a few of the nationalities that have been affected by genocide. It is the hope that education and awareness through the medium of art can be used to help ensure a more peaceful future in the 21st century.
“We are very proud to be presenting this important program to the public,” says Whistler House Museum of Art president and executive director, Sara Bogosian. “It was inspired by Arshile Gorky, the Father of Abstract Expressionism, who is one of the artists in the Whistler House Museum of Art collection. Gorky is considered to be one of the most famous survivors of the Armenian Genocide,” added Bogosian.
The symposium will include experts in the field of genocide studies including:
- Diana Der-Hovanessian: Der-Hovanessian, a New England born poet, was twice a Fulbright professor of American Poetry and is the author of more than 25 books of poetry and translations. She has awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poetry Society of America, PEN/Columbia Translation Center, National Writers Union, Armenian Writers Union, Paterson Poetry Center, Prairie Schooner, American Scholar, and the Armenian Ministry of Culture. Her poems have appeared in Agni, American Poetry Review, Ararat, CSM, Poetry, Partisan, Prairie Schooner, Nation, etc., and in anthologies such as Against Forgetting, Women on War, On Prejudice, Finding Home, Leading Contemporary Poets, Orpheus and Company, Identity Lessons, Voices of Conscience, Two Worlds Walking, etc. She works as a visiting poet and guest lecturer on American poetry, Armenian poetry in translation, and the literature of human rights at various universities in the USA and abroad. She serves as president of the New England Poetry Club.
- Kim Servart Theriault PhD: Dr. Theriault holds a PhD in art history from the University of Virginia and is currently associate professor of art history, theory and criticism at Dominican University in River Forest, IL. She has several academic publications to her credit including Rethinking Arshile Gorky and the essay “Exile, Trauma, and Arshile Gorky’s The Artist and His Mother” and the published catalog for the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective. She has given art historical lectures at venues such as the Library of Congress, National Gallery of Art, and Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and universities such as Oxford, the University of London, UCLA, Berkeley and the University of Michigan.
- Dr. Elliott W. Salloway: Dr. Salloway is the USA founder of Project eXodus, an international organization that explores the issues of genocide and human nature through art exhibitions, raising awareness throughout the world. As a faculty member at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, he has used art extensively as a teaching tool. Dr. Salloway has been a periodontist in Worcester for 49 years and is an avid painter and photographer whose works have been exhibited at the Miami Historical Museum, Worcester City Arts, Boston City Arts, The New Gallery in Boston, Panopticon Gallery in Boston and Waltham, Arts Worcester, and the Davis Art Gallery. He studied art at Boston’s School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Worcester Art Museum. Salloway’s works of art will also be included in the genocide exhibition.
- Sayon Soeun: Soeun is a survivor of the Cambodian Genocide featured in the documentary, Lost Child: Sayon’s Journey. He was abducted at the age of six, exploited by the Khmer Rouge, his family life and education stolen. His recovery and redemption from unimaginable evil entails his transition from an orphanage in a refugee camp to adoption by a loving American family. After more than 35 years, he recently made contact with brothers and a sister he assumed were dead. The documentary follows his journey back to Cambodia to heal himself by finding the family that let him slip away and forgiving himself for his complicity as a Khmer Rouge child soldier.
Artists featured in the art exhibition are well-known painters, sculptors, textile artists and collectors specializing in this genre. They include: Mohammed Ali and Al Asadi, Gagik Aroutiunian, Bayda Asbridge, John Avakian, Ani Babaian, Stephen Clements, Ellen Davison, Adrienne Der Marderosian, Dave Drinon, Charlotte Eckler, Amy Fagin, Fanardjian (loaned by Stephen Dulgarian), Lynne Foy, Gillian Frazier, Charles Gallagher, Mary Hart, James Higgins, Raymond Howell (loaned by Eve Soroken), JoAnn Janjigian, Andrew Ellis Johnson, David Jones, Lucine Kasbarian, Mico Kaufman, Chantha Khem, Puthearith Kret, Sandra Lauterbach, Markus Lewis, Adam Mastoon,Talin Megherian, Crissie Murphy, Ruth Naylor, Marsha Nouritza Odabashian, Judith Peck, Dany Pen, Sandra Presley, Bill Reedy, Hope Ricciardi, Jennifer Rocco Stone, Alain Rogier, LinDa Saphan, Susanne Slavick, Jessica Sperandio, Rose Sielian Theriault, Nora Tang, Sopheap Theam and New England Quilt Museum’s Community Quilters, Rita Thompson, Robert Thurlow, Holly Tomlinson, Carol Vinick, Denise Warren
The exhibition and symposium are free to the public. The program is supported in part by a grant from the Lowell Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency. Funding was also supplied in part by UMass Lowell, Moses Greeley Parker Lecture Series, and with the participation of NAASR (National Association of Armenian Studies and Research) and Artscope Magazine.
The Whistler House Museum of Art is the historic birthplace of the famous American artist, James McNeill Whistler. Established in 1878 as the Lowell Art Association Inc., it is the oldest incorporated art association in the United States. It is known internationally for its distinguished collection of 19th and early 20th century New England representational art. The Whistler House hosts many exhibits, lectures, educational and community programs, concerts and an array of social events in the residence, gallery and adjoining Victorian park.