Artist Hejinian Awarded Movses Khorenatsi Medal

YEREVAN—The honors keep coming for prominent Chelmsford, Mass. artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian.

A year after he was wined and dined in Yerevan for a magnanimous art show reflecting the 100th year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, on comes another tribute.

Chelmsford artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian (right) receives the prestigious Medal of Movses Khorenatsi from Armenian President Serge Sarkisian.
Chelmsford artist Daniel Varoujan Hejinian (right) receives the prestigious Medal of Movses Khorenatsi from Armenian President Serge Sarkisian.

He can now add to his growing collection of awards the prestigious Medal of Movses Khorenatsi—the state’s highest honor—presented by Armenian President Serge Sarkisian.

The tribute came on May 28 during the occasion of Armenia’s First Republic Day at the Sadarapat Memorial Complex as thousands looked on. An awarding ceremony followed at the Sadarapat Ethnography and Liberation History Museum.

Hejinian was also invited to participate in the two-day International Social and Political Global Forum against Genocide by the Ministry of Diaspora April 22 and 23. The event was tied to the Centennial in Yerevan. He wound up spending the next five weeks in Haiastan.

Over the years, the artist has been a catalyst for human rights with his eclectic canvas work, along with two decades of putting up billboards throughout Greater Boston highlighting the genocide.

Scene from First Republic Day at Sadarapat where Daniel Varoujan Hejinian was honored with the Medal of Movses Khorenatsi.
Scene from First Republic Day at Sadarapat where Daniel Varoujan Hejinian was honored with the Medal of Movses Khorenatsi.

Two years ago, he designed and helped initiate a memorial called “The Mother’s Hands,” which ultimately was erected by Lowell City Hall. Hejinian rallied community support and funding for the project, which was the first of its kind on government property anywhere in the United States.

As a member of the Armenian Genocide Monument Committee of Merrimack Valley (MV), Hejinian has played a key role in its success. The MV Commemorative Committee honored him with a Distinguished Community Service Award not long ago.

His organization “Peace of Art” has received praise throughout the diaspora. The Khorenatsi Medal was the coup de grace among honors. Additional awards and titles were given to those in science, education, economy, health, culture, art, and sports, as well as to a number of diasporan representatives and servicemen in the military.

In what proved a monumental task this past January, Peace of Art launched its genocide awareness billboard campaign dubbed “100 Billboards for 100 years of Genocide,” where Hejinian displayed large electronic and stationary billboards throughout the United States and Canada, honoring victims of all genocides over the last century.

Daniel Varoujan Hejinian (shown with glasses) participates in a two-day forum on legal genocide issues in Yerevan.
Daniel Varoujan Hejinian (shown with glasses) participates in a two-day forum on legal genocide issues in Yerevan.

Last year, Hejinian received the exalted Arshile Gorky Medal from Diasporan Minister Hranush Hakobyan in recognition of his remarkable achievements in the spheres of art and culture.

That same year, hewas granted an honorary membership to the Union of Artists in Armenia by Union President Karen Aghamyan.

Since 2004, his efforts have led to 25 exhibitions in such government buildings as the Massachusetts State House, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, and the Armenian Museum of America.

Religious murals for seven different Armenian churches in America rank high on the artist’s resume, not to mention a collection of work reflecting the immigrant experience.

Hejinian has made it his mission to combine the experiences of his heritage with his remarkable talent as an artist to promote peace. He communicates human suffering through his strokes to promote positive change.

His “Colors in the Sky” exhibition at Boston’s Prudential Center Skywalk raised funds for the Wang Center’s Young at Arts Program. Many of his shows have been linked to charitable organizations like the Armenian Sisters Academy, Armenian General Benevolent Union, and Armenian National Committee of America.

“What I do for myself stays with me,” he says. “But what I accomplish for my nation and heritage lives on. Hopefully, my efforts will serve as an inspiration for others to achieve their goals and help make a difference toward world peace and harmony.”

The symposium in Armenia was yet another distinction. Hejinian was invited by the Ministry of Diaspora to participate in the International Social and Political Global Forum against Genocide.

“The New York Times in 1915 published 150 articles—one every 2 or 3 days—about the rising crime,” Hejinian told delegates. “Unfortunately, superpowers showed stone indifference, based upon their personal or political interests. Countries like America, Germany, and France did nothing to stop it. Those countries should also be charged for failing to take action for this crime against humanity and brought to justice.”

Hejinian’s words were welcomed by attendees and Hakobyan, who valued the importance of recognition, restitution, and reparations.

“A hundred years have passed but nations are still in the same position. It seems nothing has changed,” Hakobyan added.

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Tom Vartabedian

Tom Vartabedian is a retired journalist with the Haverhill Gazette, where he spent 40 years as an award-winning writer and photographer. He has volunteered his services for the past 46 years as a columnist and correspondent with the Armenian Weekly, where his pet project was the publication of a special issue of the AYF Olympics each September.
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