The Zohrab Information Center is thrilled to announce the next lecture in the Fall 2019 series on monasticism. On Wednesday, November 13 at 7 PM in the Guild Hall of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, Sato Moughalian will present her recent book, Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian. Her Enrichment Evening talk, titled, David Ohannessian and the Armenian Ceramics of Jersualem, will both introduce the audience to her book, and will also place the Armenian ceramic work of David Ohannessian in the context of the St. James Armenian Monastery of Jerusalem. Our Fall lecture series on monasticism explores the education system, cultural context, and the place of Armenian monasteries in the history of Armenian learning and society at large. Ms. Moughalian’s talk introduces the place of art in Armenian monasteries into our series discussion. During this lecture series, the Zohrab Information Center hopes to highlight and animate the practices and knowledges that make Armenian monasteries such important centers of worship and learning.
Along the cobbled streets and golden walls of Jerusalem, brilliantly glazed tiles catch the light and beckon the eye. These colorful wares—known as Armenian ceramics—are iconic features of the Holy City. Silently, these works of ceramic art—an art that graces homes and museums around the world—also represent a riveting story of resilience and survival.
In 1919, David Ohannessian founded the art of Armenian ceramics in Jerusalem, where his work and that of his followers is now celebrated as a local treasure. Born in an isolated Anatolian mountain village, Ohannessian mastered a centuries-old art form in Kütahya, witnessed the rise of violent nationalism in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, endured arrest and deportation in the Armenian Genocide, founded a new tradition in Jerusalem under the British Mandate, and spent his final years, uprooted once again, in Cairo and Beirut.
Ms. Moughalian will detail the lineage and transfer of her grandfather David Ohannessian’s ceramic tradition from Kütahya to Jerusalem, a story obscured in the art historical narrative. She will speak about the process of coming to terms with her family’s past, the ways in which that served as an impetus to excavate and reconstruct her grandfather’s history through archival research, and the importance of preserving the stories of peoples displaced through migration. She will also highlight the critical role Jerusalem’s Armenian Convent of St. James played in sheltering survivors of the Armenian Genocide in the years after the First World War and then again as Armenians fled their homes in Palestine during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.
Sato Moughalian is the author of Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian (Redwood Press/Stanford University Press, 2019). She is also an award-winning flutist in
New York City and Artistic Director of Perspectives Ensemble, founded in 1993 at Columbia University to explore and contextualize works of composers and visual artists. She serves as principal flutist of the American Modern Ensemble and Gotham Chamber Opera; guest flutist with groups including Imani Winds, American Ballet Theatre, American Symphony Orchestras, and the Orquestra Sinfonico do Estado São Paulo, Brazil. She can be heard on more than thirty chamber music recordings for Sony Classics, BIS, Naxos, as well as on YouTube, Spotify, and other major music platforms. Since 2007, Ms. Moughalian has traveled to Turkey, England, Israel, Palestine, and France to uncover her grandfather’s traces, has published articles, and gives talks on the genesis of Jerusalem’s Armenian ceramic art.
Copies of the book Feast of Ashes: The Life and Art of David Ohannessian will be available for purchase and to be signed by the author! As always, a reception will follow. All are welcome!