Two original portraits by Weekly illustrator William Terian have been hand delivered to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Armenian President Armen Sarkissian. In a moment captured by the Prime Minister’s office last month, Pashinyan is visibly beaming as he is presented with his likeness on canvas by the Detroit-based artist.
“You can tell by the expression on his face, he was quite happy,” said Terian in an interview with the Armenian Weekly. “To see him smile made me smile. It feels like he appreciated my work.”
Terian, whose drawings of Pashinyan have been featured from time to time in the pages of the Armenian Weekly since last summer, wanted to pay tribute to the leader of the Velvet Revolution in a more elaborate way on oil and canvas. “I’m proud of this new prime minister,” said Terian. “I think he’s taking the country in a new direction.”
He showed the paintings to his minister Rev. Dr. Vahan Tootikian of the Armenian Evangelical World Council, who insisted that they somehow be delivered to the Armenian leaders. During a break at the Hayastan All Armenia Fund board meeting, a member of the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA) presented the painting to Pashinyan.
Humbled, Terian says he feels his portrait is an accurate depiction of Pashinyan’s character. “He looks like a person who is good-hearted. He loves the country, and he wants the country to succeed.”
Attached to the painting was a personal letter from Terian in which he introduced himself and expressed his gratitude from afar. “I wanted you to know how much we, Armenians living in the United States, appreciate the sacrifices you have personally made to improve the geo-political climate and quality of life for Armenians living in Armenia,” he wrote. Terian says he hopes to travel to Armenia again in the future to visit relatives and hopefully meet Pashinyan and Sarkissian.
Until then, he is working on several other likenesses including those of William Saroyan and Alex Manoogian in his hometown of Milford Village in southeastern Michigan, where he lives with his wife of 30 years, Araxie. His portrait of slain Agos journalist Hrant Dink is expected to go on display at Watertown’s Armenian Museum of America. “I’m trying to stay relevant,” explained Terian. “I like to feel as though I got something to contribute.”