This was my big secret for the past 4 months!! On Saturday, April 6th, I attended the City of Smile Gala that raised nearly $150,000 to ensure children in Armenia with cancer receive medical treatment regardless of family income. I was asked to draw Mrs. Anna Hakobyan, the spouse of the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, as a gift. I presented it to her on Saturday and prepared a speech. See my speech below! For the full explanation of all the symbolism and more coverage of the event, see the videos on my Facebook.
Dear distinguished guests and the honorable Mrs. Anna Hakobyan,
I feel deeply privileged to be among you all here tonight.
I was asked to create artwork as a gift for Mrs. Hakobyan in appreciation of her remarkable work in championing social and humanitarian causes.
I use symbolism in my artwork to capture and highlight the beautiful nuances of our Armenian culture and heritage.
The first words that came to mind when I sat down to make this drawing, were peaceful warrior. I feel Mrs. Hakobyan is the voice of the voiceless.
The first layer of the garment represented here is a depiction of traditional Armenian warrior armor. It covers the chest because she is protecting the heart of the Armenian.
The metal guards on the forearms are adorned with growing flowers symbolizing her work in cultivating far reaching change and as wild flowers drawing like minded people to help foster that change.
She is holding a pomegranate as a timeless symbol of the Armenian heritage. Out of which rises the insignia of this wonderful organization we’re all here to support today , City Of Smile.
The overlay on the chest is decorated with an image of wheat representing the hard working nature of our people and the invaluable work Mrs. Hakobyan has initiated and is carrying out.
The grapes on the shoulders are a representation of the Armenian people’s passion for life.
I chose to draw Mrs. Hakobyan’s hair in its natural, beautiful, curly state. To me, it speaks of her character as a self confident woman who embraces who she is, and is helping create a paradigm shift in terms of empowering Armenian women.
The headband is adorned with the Armenian symbol of eternity, representing perseverance and endurance in the face of formidable challenges.
I created the background patterning with quills representing Mrs. Hakobyan’s work in journalism.
Lastly, a necklace highlights the 5 initials of what is her greatest treasure, her family. The letters on the coins of the necklace she wears are the Armenian first initials of the names of her children and spouse. Mariam, Ashod, Shoushan and Arpi (beautiful name by the way) and last but not least, Nikol.
My father, Sarkis Jinbashian who recently passed, throughout his life repeated his most impassioned advice to my siblings and me, he would always tell us azkit okood yeghir- be of benefit to your people.
You, dear Mrs. Hakobyan are a shining example of what his advice entails. Thank you for all your hard work in helping raise funds and awareness for City of Smile and bringing hope and help to children in Armenia struck by cancer as well as everything else you do for our homeland and our people.
On a personal note, Mrs. Hakobyan, If you ever have one of those days when you feel overwhelmed, my hope is that you look at this drawing to remind you of your incredible inner strength and know that you have a peaceful army of hearts and hands who love you and support you here in the US and all across the globe.