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Art Exhibit on Armenian Genocide Featured in US Holocaust Memorial Center

A new traveling exhibit opened Sunday at the Holocaust Memorial Center Zekelman Family Campus in Farmington Hill, Michigan. The exhibit, “Barsamian: 20 Years-Searching for the Answer,” explores questions about the Armenian genocide through art. Dallas-based artist Robert Barsamian (pictured), of Armenian descent, raises the question: Can art help in understanding the history, the memory and the trauma?

The moving art installation was inspired by the childhood memories Barsamian’s grandmother told him of the deportation, marches, mass murders and corpses hidden away in caves during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. The goal of the installation, according to the description on the Holocaust Memorial Center website, is to create a safe place for raising awareness, telling stories, meditating and healing.

In the exhibit, Barsamian incorporates visual clues from his heritage — the colors of the Armenian flag, the Byzantine-style Christian crosses and large letters from an antique folk art based on bird forms. On the golden walls are large, evocative paintings of symbols from his grandmother’s stories with narrative text, poetry by Peter Balakian (also of Armenian descent) and religious objects. Included too are portraits of Barsamian’s grandmother and his mother who came in 1919 as an infant to America.

“This exhibit will fascinate, educate and arouse viewers’ interest and sympathy. At the Holocaust Memorial Center, we recognize that there are lessons for humanity in all mass atrocities. By bringing this exhibit here, we are showing the universalities the Armenians share with us and hope that visitors come away determined to speak out against similar events and victimizations still occurring in other countries,” said Holocaust Memorial Center Executive Director Stephen Goldman.

The exhibit is on display through July 10.