May 2022 Student Spotlight
Marxe BSPA student, Lia Harutyunyan, introduces us to her world of art and talks about her painting Indestructible for Evelyn Simien’s book talk on Historic Firsts in U.S. Elections.
You created this painting Indestructible for Evelyn Simien’s book talk on Historic Firsts in U.S. Elections. Can you tell us about that?
I drew a black woman and an American flag behind her. It is supposed to represent the empowerment of people of color, specifically women in America and American politics. The woman in the drawing embodies confidence within herself, she is ready for any challenge, and the flag represents not only the political aspect but also the very place where the struggle of intersectionality comes from. Yet, through empowerment, the black woman is able to stand confidently beside it and significantly contribute to American politics and strive to claim a high place in American society of which she deserves.
How do you feel art intersects with public policy and administration?
I believe art can intersect with anything, art is a form of expression created to convey certain emotions and conceptual ideas. That being said, although indirect, there is a lot of emotion within public policy and administration, particularly within individuals that are being directly affected by it. At times there are ineffective or corrupt policies and administration, not just in America but globally. This can result in feelings of frustration, anger, even perseverance. Art is able to convey these emotions and feelings and illustrate the emotions that can come from public policy and administration and its effects on civilians.
What are your preferred artistic mediums?
oil paints and charcoal
What advice do you have for a beginner who wants to paint emotionally resonant pieces like yours?
My advice to any beginners wanting to paint emotionally resonant pieces would be to first understand what emotion you’re trying to share and express through the art. Emotions are expressed differently by everyone, personally, I like to be rather subtle, think about how you’d like to express yours and how you’d want it to translate. Don’t rush and don’t strive for perfection but rather focus on feeling and expression.
You take PAF 3010 with Associate Professor Angie Beeman – can you talk a bit about the conversations you’ve had about the political aspects of the flag, challenges, empowerment, and claiming a place in American society?
Professor Beeman is an excellent professor and we’ve shared several conversations in terms of the political aspects of the flag, challenges, empowerment, and claiming a place in American society. We’ve spoken about one of the main challenges in the present day is how our society tends to neglect the entire political, institutional and structural forms of racism woven into profound aspects of one’s daily life such as schools, neighborhoods, political and social institutions, etc. There is a focus on racism within individuals, where individuals perceive others as either racist, or non-racist or in order words “innocent or guilty”, instead of institutions, and the consequence that we face is we leave little to no room for the focus on empowerment, and we completely neglect the systematic racism woven unto us, we continue to uphold it and normalize the effects of it which is entirely counter-productive. We must continue to have a focus on and create a space for empowerment, and not just for people of color to simply claim a place in American society, but rather claim an equal place as everyone else, free of discrimination and prejudice.