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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Three shows open at Charter Oak Cultural Center Thursday

Charter Oak Cultural Center
21 Charter Oak Ave., Hartford, (860) 249-1207
Linda Abadjian: Lambs of Lebanon, A Window to War
Esam Pasha: Dimensions of Memory
Nilofer Haider: Demystifying the Burka
Jan. 14—Feb. 26, 2010
Opening Reception: Thurs., Jan. 14, 2010, 5:30—7:30 p.m.

Press release

Charter Oak Cultural Center is pleased to present a solo exhibition by Linda Abadjian, Jan. 14—Feb. 26, 2010. Opening Reception Thurs., Jan. 14 from 5:30—7:30 p.m. The location is 21 Charter Oak Ave. Hartford, CT. This event is free and open to the public, Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.—5 p.m. (Abadjian's artwork has been previously written about on Connecticut Art Scene here and here.)

These depictions of war-torn buildings and landscapes aim to find new hope, while expressing the atrocity of war. Unforgiving Sharpie lines emerge through layers of paint, mimicking the insistent memories and events of conflict. Abadjian shows personal loss—that of childhood, yet her paintings express the beauty of human resilience, people's ability to become accustomed to war. Uprooted from her home in Shemlan, Lebanon, at age thirteen, due to the Lebanese Civil War, she immigrated to the U.S. along with her family. A visit to Lebanon in 2005 provided further inspiration for these paintings.

Superimposing multiple images allows Abadjian to explore the intricate issues intertwined with war, including lack of control, displacement and various types of loss. The aftermath of war—not its real time violence—draws her to paint images of war-torn buildings and places from her childhood. And due to her experiences, she is deeply affected by political instability in the world, especially that of Lebanon and the Middle East. As an Armenian Lebanese, and naturalized American citizen, her past continues to shape her identity, allowing her to find new hope and express loss that cannot be justified.

In Abadjian's current work, she examines these various forms of hope. One such idea emerged when previously applied text gradually revealed itself through layers of paint. Whether Armenian, Arabic or English, these words—sometimes fragments of her poetry—are strong visual elements. Other objects that surface in her paintings, vary anywhere from the evil eye to the Masbaha, the Muslim equivalent to prayer or worry beads, as well as the Cross, and Stuffed Lamb. As a Christian of Armenian descent, Abadjian's obsession lies not with religion itself, but with the commonality of divine symbols. The similarity of the Masbaha to the Catholic Rosary is ironic. Every religion requires a tool with which to count prayers. Christians use the Rosary, Buddhists the Mala, Muslims the Masbaha, and the Jewish people the prayer shawl or the Tallit.

The evil eye, ubiquitous in Middle Eastern culture, repels evil, offering protection from harm. It exists in jewelry, in decorative household objects, and in mementos. Souvenir Masbahas are often made with these typical blue, evil eye beads. This symbol has become increasingly sacred for Abadjian who finds strength in wearing it. Such a fashionable and universal object has found its way into spirituality, akin to religious symbols that offer refuge and comfort.

Abadjian received her MFA from Hartford Art School at the Univ. of Harford in 2006, and her BA from Central CT State Univ. in 1994. She worked for renowned artist Sol LeWitt, as well as the Troyer Gallery in Washington, D.C. as Assistant Director. Currently she is a Professor of Art and Art History at Paier College of Art and Middlesex Community College in CT. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout the U.S including New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. In 2009, she was awarded the New Boston Fund Individual Artist Fellowship. Her work is included in the Sol LeWitt Collection.


Also opening Thursday night at the Charter Oak Cultural Center are shows by (Dimensions of Memory) Esam Pasha and Nilofer Haider (Demystifying the Burka). Both exhibits will also run through Feb. 26, 2010.

Meet “Iraq’s art hero,” Esam Pasha. Last fall he was commissioned to paint the first public mural in post-Saddam Iraq, and now he is showing his work here at Charter Oak. Pasha’s exhibit came out of a series of works based on memories of Baghdad. Come, view these artworks and enjoy the visual music they create. Let your eyes enjoy the artwork and let your heart feel inspired.

Nilofer Haider’s exhibit includes photographs taken while the artist was on a trip to her homeland, Pakistan. The 25-image sequence is of young girls without head covering, preteen and teen-aged girls with head covering, burka clad women, and chador clad women.

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