“Creatively, this has been an unbelieveable journey,” said designer and fine artist Michael Aram.
And a very personal one, which will become evident when Aram unveils “Migrations,” his first public sculpture, at a ceremony tonight commemorating the centennial of the Armenian Genocide, at the St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in Manhattan, on 630 Second Ave. and 34th Street.
The installation is a 16-foot-tall, looming sculpture depicting clusters of bronze birds flying out of a gaping crack in a map of Armenia, to symbolize the masses of Armenians who fled to all parts of the world. “There are hundreds of birds. I never sat and counted,” said Aram, an American of Armenian descent who worked on the piece for a year.
An estimated 1.5 million Armenians living in their historic homeland, which is now Turkey, were exterminated by the Ottoman government during and after World War I. Aram’s great-grandfather who lived in Constantinople was rounded up and died 11 months later in prison. “Thankfully, both my grandfather and grandmother made it out. They were survivors,” said Aram, who lives and works in New York as well as in India where he has a studio. “They came to Rhode Island around 1920. They never spoke about what happened. Families were separated. People were lost, and for many it’s impossible to understand their family histories.
“My desire to create the sculpture was very personal,” Aram said. “Thankfully, I got the support from the Archdiocese. I feel my piece does tell the story in a visual way, becomes a little participatory. My hope is anyone looking at it would feel a sense of progression, moving forward, and success because Armenians are here in America and wherever you go, you find Armenians. There are even Armenian churches in India, which blows my mind.”