WATERTOWN–MA–Well-known plastic surgeon from Beverly Hills–California–Dr. Rafik Sarkissian–donated a sculpture memorializing the Armenian Genocide to the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown–Massachusetts.
The Genocide sculpture–"Mother and Child," was designed by Sarkissian and sculptured in bronze by portraitist Alice Melikian of Yerevan–who now resides in Los Angeles. The work was displayed at Dr. Sarkissian’s home in Beverly Hills for a decade before the recent donation to the Boston-area museum.
Despite numerous genocide commemoration events in the community–the opening dedication of the sculpture drew an impressive group of interested parties to the museum’s lobby–where the work is featured prominently on permanent display. The innocuous title "Mother and Child," suggests a serene scene of motherhood–which contrasts with the actual stark imagery of a grieving mother cradling the body of her dead child. The mother’s face is a blank incomprehension of the reasons for the suffering and death.
Rev. Vartan Hartunian–the keynote speaker–gave a moving introduction to the work. Although a highly articulate public speaker and published poet–he found himself dumbstruck when he first viewed the work. He was a small child himself during the Armenian Genocide–and the grieving mother and child had a profound impact on him.
"Of all the victims," he mulled–"the children were the most tragic. How could small children be slaughtered with such callousness–such enthusiasm?" He then cited documented German eyewitness reports of starving Armenian orphans rounded up in large numbers by the Turks for "stealing" the scraps of food they scrounged to survive. As punishment the children’s hands were cute off–so the children would stumble into the fields to bleed to death. The German witnesses reported seeing roads strewn with the tiny hands of children.
Rev. Hartunian’s somber reflections were followed by the impassioned remarks of Dr. Rafik Sarkissian–an ardent advocate of the need to remember the victims of the Genocide. He has underwritten the publication of six different books on the tragedy–including the "The Armenian Genocide" by Libarid Azadian and Armen Donoyan–and "Monument to the Martyred Intellectuals," by T’eodik–and has commissioned several related monumental artworks.