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In conversation with University of Illinois graduate student Helen Makhdoumian, Syrian-born Armenian artist Kevork Mourad will discuss how he conceptualizes migration, memory and place-making through his paintings and visual performances. Mourad depicts the Syrian refugee crisis and co-existence in cities like Qameshli, Aleppo and Damascus. He will elucidate how his and his ancestors' memories of the Syrian Civil War and the Armenian genocide inform his representations of upheaval and survival.
Hosted by: Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide and Memory Studies
In conjunction with: Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, College of Fine and Applied Arts, Department of English, Humanities Research Institute, Program in Comparative and World Literature, Program in Jewish Culture and Society, Russian, East European and Eurasian Center, School of Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, School of Music, Spurlock Museum.
Mourad’s work, A World Through Windows, is on display beginning February 23, 2021 at the Spurlock Museum of World Cultures. Photos of the work, along with videos and statements by the artist are viewable virtually at: https://go.illinois.edu/spurlock-mourad. A World Through Windows explores the way the pandemic has reduced our sense of space and our spheres of influence, even while it has spread globally and therefore increased our connectivity around the world. In the piece, each window opens onto the world of a household, with each household isolated from the next. Only when the viewer steps back and looks at the whole building is it possible to get a sense of community—community being the sharing of happiness and suffering, the sense of the communality of the emotions and experiences that make us human.
Syrian-born, New York-based Armenian artist Kevork Mourad received his Master of Fine Arts from the Yerevan Institute of Fine Arts in Armenia. Mourad has been a resident teaching artist at Brandeis University, Harvard University, and Holy Cross (Worcester). He is the only visual artist member in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and is featured in the film Music of Strangers (2016). Recent commissions include Israel in Egypt, for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Sound of Stone to accompany the exhibition Armenia! for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Well Wish Ya, a dance performance piece with the OYO Dance Troupe in Namibia. His performance, Home Within, co-produced with clarinetist Kinan Azmeh, has toured the world. The 2016 recipient of the Robert Bosch Stiftung Film Prize, his animated film 4 Acts for Syria made its 2019 premiere at the Stuttgart Animation Festival. Mourad’s ability to communicate to a broad interdisciplinary audience and public at large is exemplified by his artist’s statement. He writes that he is “open and generous with his process” and that he “collaborates as a matter of instinct, building micro-communities during the creation or co-production of a painting, live drawing, or performance.” He has carried out this vision of community-building for several years, having collaborated with other international artists and musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, Kim Kashkashian, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, Brooklyn Rider, The Knights, Perspectives Ensemble, Paola Prestini, and Kinan Azmeh. Moreover, he has presented in diverse venues across the world, from galleries to large concert and lecture halls. These include The Aga Khan Museum (Toronto), The Art Institute of Chicago, The American Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Bronx Museum of Art, Carnegie Hall, ElbPhilharmonie (Germany), Rhode Island School of Design, Nara Museum (Japan), Lincoln Center Atrium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Walk Disney Concert Hall.
Helen Makhdoumian is a PhD Candidate in English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Trained as an interdisciplinary scholar, she is completing a minor in American Indian and Indigenous Studies as well as certificates through The Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies and The Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. Her dissertation, "A Map of This Place: Memory and the Afterlives of Removal," proffers the rubric of what she calls “nested memory” through a contrapuntal study of Armenian American, Palestinian American, and American Indian/First Nations novels and memoirs. She regularly contributes to Days and Memory, the HGMS blog, and her articles have appeared in Modern Fiction Studies, Studies in American Indian Literatures, and the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies.