RADNOR, Pa.—As part of their Armenian Cultural Day celebration, Armenian Sisters Academy students in the fourth to eighth grades visited the Arshile Gorky Exhibit now running at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Accompanied by Principal Sister V. Louisa Kassarjian, art teacher Armen Yepoyan, and eight other faculty members, the students were given a private tour by museum guides. Junior level students (seventh and eighth graders) spent 90 minutes with museum guide Nancy Hovnanian, who went into greater detail on Gorky’s work. Hovnanian said she was impressed by the children’s questions, general knowledge, and interest.
Music teacher Maroush Paneyan-Nigon also accompanied the students on their trip. “Mr. Yepoyan should be commended for the way he provides opportunities for the students to learn about and to appreciate so many different styles of art. The children seemed to truly enjoy the exhibit, “she said.
“For the last several weeks leading up to the exhibition, our students have been learning about Arshile Gorky’s life and art in the classroom,” explained Yepoyan. “They eagerly awaited this field trip to see the marvelous original works in this retrospective for themselves. It was wonderful to see our students being inspired by the colors, shapes, masterstrokes and history behind each series of work. Clearly they now have a much better understanding and appreciation of what this Armenian Genocide survivor brought to the world of art and how he lead the Abstract Expressionist Movement in the United States in the 1940’s”, he added.
“Gorky’s art is remarkable in his use of texture,” commented seventh grader Julie Arthin. “His artwork displayed specific moods. When he used grey, it reflected sad times in his life. I respect him more as an artist now that I better understand his background.”
Classmate Alex Ayrapetian was equally impressed. “My experience at the Arshile Gorky Exhibit was great because it opened my mind. I thought his work was just scribbles until it was explained to me and I grew to understand his genius,” he said.
Gorky’s use of color and texture fascinated the students, as did the various stages of his career. Evan Mazmanian, a seventh grader, said: “I loved seeing a famous Armenian being shown in a museum and that our nationality lives on. My favorite piece is ‘Organization’ because it has many different curves, straight lines, and abstract shapes. I like how Gorky expresses his feelings and what’s going on in his life. For example, after the fire in his studio, he would paint with red and black to represent the fire and ashes. It’s wonderful that America recognized and acknowledged his talent. I like him a lot because he is deep and interpreted many things into his art which he lived for.”
The exhibit proved to be a worthwhile learning experience for the students and faculty alike. All took great pride in seeing their culture celebrated by mainstream America.
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