Society 20:40 21/06/2017

Artist Norik Astvatsaturov named NEA National Heritage Fellow

Armenian-American artist Norik Astvatsaturov has been named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts and will be honored at a special ceremony in the nation’s capital on September 14, Asbarez reported.

The source informs that Astvatsaturov, who is an Armenian Repoussé metal artist who using a hammer and simple nail punches, works both sides of metal sheets (copper, bronze, brass, German silver, sometimes gold) and uses semi-precious stones like amethyst, turquoise, garnet, topaz, and carnelian as insets to create ornate works of art. Cultural items like jewelry boxes and icons made by Astvatsaturov are used by the Armenian diaspora to maintain their ethnic identity and remember their turbulent history.

In early 1990s, during the “Pogroms” against Christian Armenians by the predominant Muslim Azerbaijanis, Astvatsaturov and his family fled Baku and eventually found a home in Wahpeton, North Dakota, in 1992. While they were forced to leave most of their possessions behind, Astvatsaturov brought with him his hammer and nail punches. He said, “A good artist is one who can carry all the tools he needs in his pocket.”

To support his family, Astvatsaturov worked as a machinist in Wahpeton while also continuing his art—this time freely and openly making items cherished by the Armenian diaspora in the United States. Astvatsaturov’s work is known not only for extraordinary technique with simple tools but for the meaning and feeling he infuses into his art. He said, “Technique without meaning is lifeless.”
Since arriving in the U.S., Astvatsaturov has worked tirelessly to teach and share his traditional art and its message with Americans and the Armenian diaspora regionally and nationally. He has taught, given workshops, presented at folk festivals, exhibited regionally and nationally, and is a recipient of fellowships from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, the Fund for Folk Culture, and the Bush Foundation.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to honor these individuals for artistic mastery, as well as a commitment to sharing their traditions,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu, as quoted by the source. “Our nation is a richer, more vibrant place because of these artists and the art forms they practice.”

It is noted that the National Heritage Fellowships recognize the recipients’ artistic excellence and support their continuing contributions to the nation’s traditional arts heritage. Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities.



Source Panorama.am
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