Who is John Avakian?

  The Horse that Led My Dad to Painting

The little boy he was,

Captured in a moment of sheer bliss

In innocence that would soon fade into 

sentiment and ecstasy,

igniting a flame from which the heart breaks.

It was an unspoken world,

Hushed in secrecy, fear of the Turks.

Being Armenian had its aftermath of suffering

Threatening beyond belief.

The little boy who smiled for the camera;

holding back the tears because he knew his

inner world didn’t match the outer

But he remembers the night

his father drew him a simple drawing;

A man on a horse,

A lead pencil drawing imprinted for all eternity

An animated image seeped into his heart,

bursting forth a rainbow of love and longing

that he and his father both shared.

In the twilight of a tragic fallen world

where vision seems obscure, not opaque.

Yet Looking, Found a special place

His own.

A magical place of inner beauty.

This would mark the beginning 

of the artist.

By Vanessa Avakian, October 2, 2006

Revised April 19, 2013



This monoprint (in background) exemplifies how far the use of paper-litho as a printmaking method has progressed in transferring photo images to paper. Genocide Hangings 2, above, is from a large scale series of work that was included in a one-person show called: LEST WE FORGET held at the Providence College, Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery in 2005. This powerful image of inhumanity was taken from a 1915 historical photo of a public hanging. It was digitally stylized, enlarged, cut into nine sections, inked as plates and then printed on BFK paper in a seamless undertaking. The small text of approximately 50-towns and cities were printed later.



A selection of monoprints from my FAMILY BIOGRAPHY series was exhibited at the Attleboro Arts Museum. The print above is titled FAMILY BIO 10. The images are from family and historical photos, and are placed next to each other in an expansive horizontal format reminiscent of an epic film-version of time beginning with genocidal horror more than 100 years ago. The aftermath continues to this day through a timeless passing of transgenerational trauma from my father through his silences and anger, and from my mother’s terrifying screams and nightmares against decades of denial, political indifference, and silence. These experiences have captured my life from the earliest time I can remember.


This monotpe/monoprint combination, CUPID ENTERS THE RUINS, was selected by Samuel Quigley, Director

This monotype/monoprint combination, CUPID ENTERS THE RUINS, was selected by Samuel Quigley, Director of the Lyman Allyn Art Museum for the 2017 National Exhibition of the New Haven Paint and Clay Club, New Haven, CT. This print is from a large group of experimental abstract prints that have been created by using a variety of materials and tools to produce a variety of interesting effects. During this period figurative subjects such as cupid, faces, and fashion models were introduced into abstract settings as an integrative challenge —thus Cupid appears in this print— full of love, daring to enter a strange world of manifest ruins in hope of bringing some semblance of love for those devastated even if it's for a brief blissful moment.

MGNE - Fifth National Juried Exhibit 2018


PORTRAIT OF INNOCENCE  received Honorable Mention by Prof. Judith Brodsky,  Rutgers University  at the Duxbury Art Complex. This large scale provocative monoprint of innocence and mass murder is seamed together in a 9-part bleed monoprint printed on 42" h x 31" w BFK gray paper. The image depicts a naked toddler sitting cross-legged on a chair in the USA, unaware that in the background lies a heap of naked dead male bodies flanked by Turkish soldiers. Sourced from a photo of the Genocidal horror of 1915. 

The 10th Blanche Ames National Art Exhibit 2012


This multilayered large monoprint ACQUATIC UNIVERSE was awarded First Place by juror Christine Neil, Professor of Painting and Drawing, College of Art, Baltimore, MD. It is from an "experimental series" involving a complicated layering system of "ghosts", stencils, and aluminum foil printings that create an amazing sense of unfathomable depth and aquatic beauty. On an imaginative metaphoric level it expresses the allusive psychic world of the unconscious that lives deep within the very being of our souls. 

116th Paint & Clay Club Juried Art Exhibition 2018


TOOLS ARE US 2 is a layered monotype selected by the Judge of Selection and Awards Richard Klien, Director, of the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield CT. This vertically designed monotype depicts two rollers traveling together in apparent harmony leaving a parallel trail of conversational colors behind. Without warning an unsuspected change in route takes place, and as quickly, the intimacy between the two widens into an empty feeling of loss striking the heart of the other.

About My Odyssey and Art