The Visual Past

David Ohannessian: Art, Exile, and the Legacies of Genocide

Episode 471 with Sato Moughalian hosted by Sam Dolbee David Ohannessian is one of the foremost pioneers of the ceramic styles associated today with the city of Jerusalem, but the remarkable story of how he ended up there has never been properly told. Born in 1884 outside of Eskişehir (modern-day Turkey), David Ohannessian became a master in the iconic Kütahya style of Ottoman ceramics. He worked on important architectural projects of the Ottoman government, only to be deported during the Armenian Genocide. He managed to survive, however, and continued his craft afterward in Jerusalem, where he became involved with restoration of the Dome of the Rock and opened his own ceramics studio in the Old City. Yet the past stayed with him, especially the weight of his experience during the genocide. In this episode, Sato Moughalian discusses Feast of Ashes, her recent biography of Ohannessian. She also talks about his story's personal resonance for her as Ohannessian's granddaughter. His artistic persistence provided a model of resilience to emulate in her own art, but the violence and displacement experienced by Ohannessian and his family also left a legacy of secrets and complicated grief in Moughalian's life that was long felt but seldom addressed. « Click for More »

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