Stir: Drawings and Paintings from the Onion Pot 
Stir: Drawings and Paintings from the Onion Pot (2019) continues my exploration and development of vignettes that magically spawn and emerge from discarded, boiled onionskins and dye on canvas. Current events including climate change, feminism, and other human rights issues, as well as history and imagination synthesize directly and metaphorically in puddles of boiled onionskins strewn upon canvas. In Stir, I focus on centralized compositions evocative of geological formations and the intimacy of nests. Also, I create loose watery grids: a geometry that maps locations, and addresses the use of collecting data to confirm facts. Earth tone anthropomorphic, hybrid, animals and humans are inseparable from the landscape they inhabit to purposefully defy displacement, while others migrate into the unknown.  
Drawings and Paintings with Onionskin Dye, Ongoing
My series Miasma (2017), Skins (2018), Stir: Drawings and Paintings from the Onion Pot (2019) discover universes of varying degrees of reality and wonder in the stains of onionskins. First, I boil the onionskins, which disintegrate into solids and liquid colored red, red-orange and maroon. Then I throw, drop, drip and pour the mixture onto canvas, paper and/or compressed cellulose sponge. Each result is unique, a miasma of layered textures, shapes and stains, which I coax, cajole and tease into plants, animals and humans in varying degrees of hybridity, development and completion. Vignettes of characters placed in isolation or in clusters are often disjointed in relationship to history and location. Indefinable landscape/ interior settings merge and contradict one another harboring hints of secret narratives. I exploit size and scale to invoke uncertainty, absurdity and humor.
Why Onionskins?
Onionskins, the imagery and materials used in my work may be interpreted in multiple ways. Painting for me is magical and my earliest experiences with painting involved my mother using onionskins to dye Easter Eggs. I was always fascinated that white or brown eggs thrown into a pot and boiled with yellow onionskins would come out bright maroon. I was haunted by the history of the tradition and the ritual. Onions also have a pungent odor, which can be inspiring or off-putting and the residue when dropped on a surface such as paper or canvas creates a miasma from which narratives can emerge.
Onionskins can be flimsy until they are boiled and then they are resilient. Boiled onionskins give the appearance of dry leaves and often elicit a response when the viewer realizes that they are not leaves, but are in fact onionskins.
When I begin the dying process, I bury the canvas or paper in the onionskins or soak it in the watery dye and let it dry. Some of the onionskin falls off when it dries and some of it sticks.  I incorporate imagery into the dried skins and/or residue and vice versa. The onionskins are a means or tool to create imagery and stir imagination.

EXPUNGE is motivated by my ongoing confrontation with the Armenian Genocide survived by my grandparents 100 years ago this April. Personal reminiscences, medieval Armenian manuscripts and architecture, and photographic documentation of the atrocities inform this exhibit. EXPUNGE addresses memory; permanence and impermanence; natural and forced extinction; loss and longing for family, land and possessions; growth, persistence, and decay; abundance and scarcity; life and death; and survival. 
I overlap large sheets of compressed cellulose sponge comprised of biodegradable plant fiber, which I have pigmented with onionskin dye, a traditional technique used by Armenians to stain Easter eggs. Eggs themselves and the various red shades attained by boiling onionskins are impermanent and are signs of death and resurrection. I also color areas of the sponge with red wine, a stand in for the blood of the Saviour in the Eucharist in Christian culture. By combining natural pigments with uncertain and variable shelf life, archival quality acrylic, and other traditional media with variable survivability including ink, charcoal, and gold paint, I emphasize various stages and conditions of life. I used varying amounts of water, a scarcity on the Genocidal death marches, to activate and shape the sponge which I then left outdoors to dry, weathered by sun, wind, rain and snow.  
These modified rectangular shape sponges are arranged in layers, like archaeological strata. The interstices recall caves, which are places of mystery, but also sites of targeted suffocation. The shadows cast by the overlapping sponges also recall the dark shadows that the light of memory casts.
In the one hundred years since the Armenian genocide, despite the shock of onlookers, atrocities continue and euphemisms such as ethnic cleansing confirm the tendency of the perpetrators to simply try to “wipe the slate clean”.  For survivors, though, the “slate” is a sponge, absorbing and being shaped by what has passed and can never be completely expunged. 
Exegesis of Frosted Cake, Ongoing beginning in 2013
Frosted cake and confectionary ornaments enhance or mask the meaning of many celebrations. For example, sugary flowers, pastel eggs, marshmallow chicks, chocolate bunnies, frosting ribbons and other decorations hover above the meaning of Easter, a holiday commemorating a resurrection only made necessary by a preceding crucifixion. This mixed media piece, “Frosted Cake and Other Delights”, is composed of poplar sticks of various lengths, propped at various angles, each adorned with a welter of hybrid animals and plant forms in candy tinted Model Magic and “icing”. The piece addresses parallels and recurring cycles of grief and bliss.

The wooden pieces, sold for construction, are made to last. Model Magic, marketed as a children’s medium, is non-toxic, self-hardening, foamy- when- fresh, light and fragile when cured. It’s long term properties are unascertained.

The formal composition reflects this uncertain mix of durability and impermanence. The metamorphic Model Magic forms are frozen in tableaux ambiguously suggesting symbiosis and predation, whimsy and menace. The piece asks its viewer to consider the relations between nostalgia, pleasure, consumption, fragility and perdurance.    

Half Perceived: Stalking the Peacock, 2011
Half Perceived: Stalking the Peacock, like my previous series, In the Shade of the Peacock, incorporates and revolves around, with variation, the figure of a peacock, a marginal decorative motif in a 13th century Armenian manuscript. I typically use large central figures surrounded by partly reprentational borders, with its many symbolic interpretations and associations, reflects how we all tend to center ourselves, more or less inescapably, in landscapes of experience that form a background or border of elements that we also know are so much larger than ourselves: they contain us completely and reduce us to a tiny element in a larger pattern that might or might not have a central, loomimg significance like the central motif in a painting. Maybe the best we can do is switch back and forth between centering ourselves and catching glimpses of ourselves as border figures--although seeking ourselves on the border amounts to another kind of centering. 

The magnificent colors and splendid crown make the peacock a perfect central figure. However, when you follow on around, stalk it, as I did with a camera at the Franklin Park Zoo, they spend little time on display and a lot of time acting like birds, walking around, pecking at the ground, monitoring their surroundings. The medieval manuscript tradition preserves this "background" element; at the same time stalking them, photographing them, painting them puts them 'in the center' whatever their place and scale in the composition. This experience of shifting centers and borders is part of what I look for in the painting process itself, with the added dimension of participating in the immense. long, ongoing and splendid history of painting, in which any one person can pretty much only be a miniscule, eccentric element. 

I try to take the center and border one step further by using the fragile and ephemeral media of Model Magic and glitter. art materials typically used by children. A childlike, sometimes mischievous quality often appears in the marginalia of artist monks, which, juxtaposed with the longing for immortality replicates another shift (as artists, we aspire to a sort of centrality, for our work to shore us up, at least by transference, against mortality.) The play between center and border is an inverstigation of this hoped for consolation. 

In The Shade of the Peacock, 2010
Shades are shadows, traces, ghosts. I am interested in how motifs persist and change over centuries. The peacock: sacred to Hera in the classical world, manuscript motif in medieval Armenia and the wider Western and Islamic cultural spheres, symbol of courtship, living ornament in a landscape, a bird of the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. In The Shade of the Peacock encompasses all of these and is at the same time none of them. In the Shade of the Peacock exemplifies how motifs function in my paintings, which are the residue of balancing the known, the process of becoming known, and the never to be known. In exploring the ways the physicality of paint and materials mimic the history of painting, of culture, and of my own experience, the 'shades' in my paintings merge perception, illusion, memory, fantasy, dislocation, nostalgia, and oblivion: shades of peacocks, and of other beings. 

Palimpsests, 2000-2005
In this series of oil paintings, I have sought to express a metaphorics of transformation and memory. The paintings deploy and juxtapose images inspired by modern children’s book illustrations, European folk tales, and the detritus of contemporary global culture with motifs taken from the traditions of medieval Armenian manuscripts and architecture, traditions that combine a complex religious iconology with often exuberant and formal jeux d’esprit. Recombining and transforming such diverse cultural elements in the interplay of large and small-scale figures, human, phytomorphic, theriomorphic, architectonic and chimeric elements, expressed in explosions of pigment, gesso in low relief, and thin glazes of paint, I both situate myself in a particular psychological, social and cultural context and invite the viewer to apprehend this complex of representations in the light of her/his own imaginative experiences.

Celestial Pantomimes, 1998
Material, process and content are inextricably intertwined in Celestial Pantomimes. In this series, I have used black velvet on canvas in a square format. The black square has many referenes to modernism. The color black is symbolic for the night sky, the unconscious and for the jet-black hair --with its ethnic associations--I had as a child. It is also a color of mourning, holiness, sexiness, power, subservience and the universal. Black velvet, purposefully used to absorb light is used in conjunction with paint and other media impacted by gravity, distance, velocity and viscosity to challenge the meaning of materials.