Intergenerational transmission of trauma, painful memory, irreplaceable loss, historical and personal photographs, and a novel image-transfer method are all active components in a self reflective journey, selecting and processing photographic material for the creation of an artful family biography series.


Memories, thoughts, and feelings come together in these monoprints. This is where my exiled immigrant parents who survived the horrors of genocide—live today. Sadly they are no longer here. This is their story— that has become mine— their only child and their only voice. I speak with tears of despair and loss through these unheralded but enduring images.


Not unlike life itself, these prints have a mixture of problematic, troublesome psychological issues along with an aesthetically beautiful antithetical component. The image is comprised of disturbing historic photographs from the 1915 Armenian Genocide and personal family photos, forming a collective voice for my parents and me—for all humanity.

Every image contained in these prints captures a moment in time ready to explode. These images are arranged in a wide horizontal format, overlapping intersections with some separated by vertical bands. The far left and right images are often snipped off at the ends implying a continuum of time. There is no attempt to create chronological time. The style and arrangement of these images, often separated by decades of time, are placed next to each other intuitively to collectively impart an unfolding psycho-historical form.

In some strange mythical way, this painful journey to re-visit sources of lingering family silence, terror and sadness seemed like an act of quiet desperation. Salvaging painful memories of time from disappearing was also a veiled attempt to memorialize my afflicted parents and to unburden myself.

Generally speaking, photographs represent a moment in time, removed from eternal time. They  represent a contextual arena in which they once lived. The regeneration of these painful historic photographs provides the source of these compelling monoprints. The sequence of dates shown on the front of each of  print represents a period of time it demanded for evolving them up to the very last date and the final image—printed and signed.

Notwithstanding the darkness and inhumanity in these prints, there is an undying light that shines through in creating this series—an unending story that speaks of horror and resilience, art and poetry. Completion of this series never required a deadline. It often took weeks, months, and sometimes years to realize the truth and soul of each print.  


John Avakian, Nov. 1, 2018


THE FIRST SMILE: FAMILY SILENCE   Bleed Monoprint  40" h x 29.5 w

THE FIRST SMILE: FAMILY SILENCE   Bleed Monoprint  40" h x 29.5 w