Local artist Cynthia Motian McGuirl will present an illustrated talk, “Armenia: A Remembrance” on the anniversary of the date usually assigned to the Armenian Genocide in 1915. The talk will be on Thursday, April 23, at 7:00 pm at the Camden Public Library and will include family memoirs from McGuirl’s Armenian predecessors, illustrated by McGuirl’s artwork in response to the Armenian Genocide. The talk will interweave images of dreams, stories, and portraits with her family history of the Armenian Genocide.
Ms. McGuirl is the granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors. A series of intense dreams about her ancestors led her to research what happened to the Ottoman Armenians during World War I. She has expressed her dreams, family stories, and ancestor portraits through her artwork. The talk will begin with an overview of the events of 1915. Through a slideshow of family photos, artifacts and artworks, the specific story of her family’s journey will be told. A collection of books about Armenians and the Genocide will also be available for viewing.
Ms. McGuirl works primarily in the medium of intaglio. She works with copper and zinc plates. The image can be developed in a back and forth manner of adding and taking away which reflects the way the stories have been revealed. “My dreams hold a strong message from my ancestors to tell their stories. I found myself drawing the dreams and the narratives. I created portraits of the people I wanted to know better. My work combines what I do know with the black holes that I am trying to fill. I hope the work will lead both the viewer and myself to further insights.
“Visual art has the power to express that which cannot be known or put into words. As I continue to explore my connections to the past, I have discovered larger themes that are important to me: human rights, the perception of history, women’s rights, and justice.” Ms. McGuirl is currently participating in the Centennial Armenian Genocide Exhibit at Studio Z in Providence, Rhode Island. She first showed her Armenian themed work in 2007 with ‘Armenia: A Remembrance’ at Elan Fine Arts in Rockport, Maine.
According to Wikipedia, “The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, traditionally by Armenians as Medz Yeghern was the Ottoman government’s systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland within the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day Ottoman authorities rounded up and arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians and the Ottoman Greeks were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. The majority of Armenian diaspora communities around the world came into being as a direct result of the genocide.
“Raphael Lemkin was explicitly moved by the Armenian annihilation to coin the word genocide in 1943 and define systematic and premeditated exterminations within legal parameters. The Armenian Genocide is acknowledged to have been one of the first modern genocides, because scholars point to the organized manner in which the killings were carried out in order to eliminate the Armenians, and it is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust.”