An Interview with Rev. Hovhannes G. Svadjian, about the Art Exhibition That Was Organized for the First Time

From 24 June to 29 June, 2010, the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church planned and organized an Art Exhibition for the first time in its history. On this occasion, we had an interview with Rev. Hovhannes Svadjian, the pastor of the church, to provide us with the details of the exhibition and its effect on the youth.
(Interview by Raffi)

(L to R): Rev. Hovhannes Svadjian, Shant Aynilian, Maria Dekermenjian, Ani Dekermenjian, Dzovag Demirjian, Koko Avessian, Kohar Parseghian (photoshy)

Raffi - Can you tell us how the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church made the decision to organize a painting exhibition?
Rev. Hovhannes - The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church in Dora, Beirut, launched an Art Exhibition, as a part of her mission, in a series of activities occurring in the years 2009 and 2010. The daily topics and concerns of our financial problems, electricity, water or inflation and the economic and political crisis, all consume our abilities and drain us spiritually. In these depressing atmosphere and unhealthy times, we believe that the Church has the role to inspire hope and offer the Good News of Jesus Christ to the people around her. The launching of the Art Exhibition was an attempt to see other dimensions in our lives, discuss about it and see God’s work through the talents of young men and women.
With these concerns, the Art Exhibition was held from Thursday, 24 June till Tuesday, 29 June, 2010, from 5.00 till 9.00 pm, in the Kindergarten Hall of the Armenian Evangelical Torossian School.
It took us months to prepare for this exhibition. After the decision was made in the Church Committee, the idea was conveyed to the six participating artists. After their consent, the Church searched for possible resources. With God’s help, we found our benefactor, for whom we express our gratitude to God. Through his generous aid, the whole project was covered and was successfully launched.

Raffi - Who were the young artists, and can you tell us more about their talent and education?
Rev. Hovhannes - The young men and women, who participated in this Art Exhibition are members of the youth group of the Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church. Some of them are trained painters, who have attended art schools or have followed art courses. Others have it as a hobby. Most of them have or on the way of having their Bachelor Degree in Education, in English or Architecture. Here, these artists participated with their 80 art works, representing different schools of thought. The six dynamic artist-painters were: Maria Degirmenjian, Ani Degirmenjian, Shant Aynilian, Koko Avesian, Dzovag Demirjian and Kohar Parseghian.

Raffi - What was the feedback of the people, who came and saw the works of the young talents?
Rev. Hovhannes - The climax of this whole Art Exhibition event was the opening, where many Church members, artists, friends and invitees were present. On Thursday, 24 June, more than 100 people were present for the opening, in order to encourage and support the whole painters. Usually the general response of the people was very positive, because this was the first time that such an exhibition was launched in our campus and with our own talents. Unfortunately, the following days had a very shy presence. Over all 10 art pieces were sold in those 6 days. However, the whole project was an attempt on the part of the Church to convey to the people to enlarge her horizons and to be circumspect, in order to see other topics for discussion and other issues of concerns.

Raffi - What were the reactions of the young artists, after the exhibition days?
Rev. Hovhannes - During preparation of the Art Exhibition and after it was over, the response of the artist-painters was and is very positive. Their enthusiasm spoke louder than words. They were present during the discussions, when preparing the Hall and during the exhibition. They were present to supervise, to explain and to discuss their art works with the visitors. Their spirit of gratitude is seen till this day.

Raffi - Any future plans?
Rev. Hovhannes - We believe that the Church has a role to play and a mission to pursue. The Armenian Evangelical Emmanuel Church is no exception. We have some preliminary thoughts but it needs to be clarified, discussed and pursued by the Church. By time, they will be crystallized and implemented. We appreciate all the voluntary works done during the Art Exhibition by the members of the planning committee and by different individuals. We thank God for the talents in our midst. We hope and pray that the artist-painters use their talents for God’s glory.