My braid images hold stories and memories, most of which I have not experienced myself, but are still closely connected to me. As physical objects, the braids I paint from observation are my own, from when I was about nine years of age. The costumes worn for Armenian women’s dance performances often portray the woman with two long dark braids. These hair extensions read as a symbol for the Armenian female. I learned traditional dances and have seen dance performances throughout my life—expressions of beauty that deeply connect an entire culture. Growing up, I always had two long dark braids, until I reluctantly agreed to have them cut off. I kept them. Today I paint them.

I’ve heard and read accounts of the atrocities of the Armenian genocide—philosophers, artists, priests, and teachers were some of the first to go. My father was born in the Armenian Diaspora. He was born while his family was fleeing from their homeland. His father wanted to leave him in the snow, because of the difficulty of traveling on foot with an infant. My grandmother refused and she fed him chewed grass to keep him alive. My grandfather was a guerilla fighter. He was captured by Turkish soldiers and thrown into prison. Three years later he escaped. It is amazing that he survived, let alone was reunited with his family. There are tragic stories from both sides of my family. I feel compelled to give them a voice—in part for a people that have not healed, in part for myself, and in part for my family that still remembers. I feel the small degrees of separation between the events that occurred during the genocide and myself. I work to give voice to Armenian women—imagery of beauty marginalized and compromised by brutality.

Connected-hair, so close to my being; disconnected, my hair.

Talin Megherian 2011