History bleeds on canvas

Ariel Lassiter

If the message didn’t come across any clearer, I might as well be blind. Art is an amazing thing. It can capture millions of words on a single paper, canvas or poster.

“The Armenian Genocide: Power of the Poster” exhibit at the Pierce College Art Gallery was, in fact, very powerful. The posters demonstrated so much pain and feelings of anguish and agony.

The definition of art is the creation of beautiful or thought-provoking works, and the posters were definitely that. While some of the posters were somewhat graphic in nature, many let simple pictures tell the story of what happened from 1915 to 1918.

I respected the fact that the posters lacked any underlying messages of hatred toward all the years of oppression and death, while making bold statements that verbalized an urgency to get the message out about what took place.

The Armenian population of the Turkish Ottoman Empire was massacred from 1915 to 1917, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1.5 million people. The Republic of Turkey denounces the account of the genocide and does not take any responsibility for it, according to a Los Angeles Times article published Thursday.

Some of the pieces were straightforward with the message, like the poster by a support Web site, www.museumofamnesia.org.

This particular piece displayed a picture of a pill bottle representing the anecdote to amnesia, helping cure the symptoms of amnesia by promoting historical recall and cultural awareness.

Another poster, called Les’t We Suffer, showed a woman with a very solemn and pain-stricken face, holding a baby in her arms along with all her possessions.

The caption explained that during the time of the genocide, many Armenians were living in very poverty-driven conditions, causing deaths of many women and children.

The most impacting factor of the exhibit was that the posters relayed a message of remembrance and ownership of the fact that the killings did happen, and that the genocide was not just a hoax or fictitious experience.

The pieces had displays of different Web sites linked with the actual story of the occurrence, as well as small fact tags with information about concerts and activists helping to get the recognition out to the world.

Going to the exhibit not knowing anything at all about the Armenian genocide, I expected to come out having learned something and I did. I discovered that there have been many severe and humorless things that have happened in the world, maybe some I will never get to see in an exhibit on.

No artwork can really capture the core of the pain Armenians suffered back then.

Genocide Memorial Day was commemorated Thursday, and the exhibit was a positive step taken to get the recognition deserved and to keep students aware of the things happening not only in the community, but in the world.

The exhibit was donated by Jean Murachanian of the UCLA Armenian Graduate Association.

Pierce student Adrain Kweli gazes at an entry in the Power of the Poster exhibition at the Pierce College Art Gallery. ()