“Art-Game” book forming aesthetic taste of children

In our days when innovative technologies are progressing at a rapid pace, young Armenians are undertaking interesting and unprecedented initiatives, brilliant evidence of which is the book “Art-Game” created by three wonderful Armenian ladies, including linguist Lia Mkhitaryan, graphic designer Lilit Stepanyan and world literature expert Gaiane Ayvazyan. On this occasion, I sat down for an interview with the talented and goal-oriented art lovers for Hayern Aysor at the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia. During our interview, the girls provided details about how they established their cooperation, conceived the idea of their book and how the book was composed.

Karine Avagyan: Lia, please, tell us the main goal of your initiative.

Lia Mkhitaryan: In 2012, we established the EYVA Arts Foundation, which is aimed at fostering the development of arts in Armenia and presenting and disseminating Armenian arts abroad. Lilit and I established the Foundation and were joined by Gaiane, with whom we had worked before the Foundation was established. Each of us has her duties, but overall, we work as a team. Taking into consideration the lack of such books, interesting materials and games in the fields of culture and the arts in Armenia, we undertook the creation of the book “Art-Game”. It is clear that one of the other goals of our Foundation is to support the implementation of this initiative.

Karine Avagyan: What programs have you carried out with the support of EYVA?

Lia Mkhitaryan: We have several social and educational programs. In 2015, we launched pan-Armenian programs. On the occasion of the 100th year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, we created and carried out the “100 Years-100 Arts” project. We launched a website that featured the works devoted to the Armenian Genocide by all Armenian painters who have lived and created between 1915 and 2015 and created an online catalog. Painters can still send us their works at www.100years100arts.com. The website is constantly updated. This was the launch of a large pan-Armenian project. The other project was the creation of our game, which is the first instructive art game book in Armenia that will soon be on sale at Bureaucrat Café and Bookstore as well. It is a card game printed in 1,000 copies under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Armenia. We also received support from the President of Armenia in the form of a grant. The European Union, the UN House in Armenia and “Pyunik” Pan-Armenian Human Resources Development Foundation helped us carry out the project, and thanks to the moral and financial assistance, we managed to not only create the game, but also donate some of the copies to children and ill children living in Armenia’s villages and provinces. After the new release of the game, we envisage donating a batch to the children in the borderline regions and villages. The book is on sale online.

Karine Avagyan: Lilit, which children is the book designed for? Could you please provide details about the game?

Lilit Stepanyan: The game is designed for children over 5 and teens. I must say that parents are also very interested in the game. It is safe to say that this is also a family game. It is a meaningful and interesting game that forms aesthetic taste in arts and provides children with knowledge about Armenian arts and world famous Armenian painters. This game book features playing cards portraying the more famous works of 12 Armenian painters (Hakob Hovnatanyan, Hovhannes Aivazovsky, Gevorg Bashinjaghyan, Vardges Surenyants, Martiros Saryan, Yervand Kochar, Harutyun Kalents, Hakob Hakobyan, Sergey Parajanov, Grigor Khanjyan, Minas Avetisyan and Ashot Hovhannisyan) that can help children organize games in groups and on their own. It also features an illustrated booklet providing interesting information. We have simply called the book “Art”.

Karine Avagyan: Gaiane, what can you say about the book? What are the perspectives? Is it available for Armenian children living abroad?

Gaiane Aivazyan: I am glad and proud to say that our game has its honorary place at the Armenian Museum of America and the famous Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is not just a game, but a unique aesthetic journey that reappreciates the paths for creating teaching and serves as a unique cultural bridge between the arts and children’s thinking. We want it to become popular in the Diaspora. So, we also decided to address the Ministry of Diaspora of the Republic of Armenia and consult with the respectable minister.

I must also say that a big team worked on making this project possible, including painters, designers, an aesthetician, an editor and other specialists.

Karine Avagyan: Lia, who is the right person to address this game to?

Lia Mkhitaryan: We attach great importance to our collaboration with museums. You can also see the following posts on our Facebook page: “You can get the “Art” game by visiting the House-Museum of Martiros Saryan”. We have also collaborated with the Sergey Parajanov Museum. What is important is that the museums of the painters included in our list are located in Armenia, and children can visit those museums. The children can see the works of the given painter in the painter’s museum and obtain the game from that particular museum. This helps the child visit the museum of a great painter, understand the essence of the museum and see the originals of the paintings and purchase the game. Now we are collaborating with AYB School. One of the schools in the Erebouni district has obtained some of the games. We still have a lot of work to do. If necessary, we visit the given school and teacher and explain the rules of the game to the teachers so that they can explain them to the children.

Karine Avagyan: Was there a prototype of the game in any other country? Which country’s example sparked your interest more?

Lia Mkhitaryan: Indeed! Such projects have been carried out in developed countries a long time ago. We spent a lot of time examining the examples. We purchased many materials, traveled to different countries and observed the successes of such games. I must say that children are brought closer to the arts abroad. We want to enhance this idea in Armenia. Studying the formats of such games in different countries, we have taken separate parts, but mainly work on using our own ideas. There is a game that we have created and developed entirely on our own.

Karine Avagyan: Lilit, do people in Armenia know you? Are the wide layers of our society familiar with the game?

Lilit Stepanyan: Our game was created a month ago and is widely discussed. Of course, professionals know us. We want the game to become widely popular in the Diaspora because it is of major significance in terms of preservation of the Armenian identity.

Karine Avagyan: How will you continue your work, Gaiane?

Gaiane Aivazyan: We will continue to touch upon the works of other Armenian writers and international painters, architecture and maybe music and songs.

When asked if they are content with the results of their work, all three smiled and added that the next “Art Game” book will be devoted to Armenian sculptors.

Interview by Karine Avagyan

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