Michelle Andonian: ‘Hope Dies Last’ project


William Saroyan

Legendary Armenian author William Saroyan once said “I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” 

To the Armenians, this is a very famous quote. Some have even said it is an overused quote, but it rings true for us as Armenians and I think it will remain a timeless quote. The most poignant portion of this quote to me (and I think to most Armenians) is “For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” I have witnessed this time and time again.


Michelle Andonian

As a musician, I had the ability to identify with this quote once again last week when I had a chance to get together with famed Detroit photographer Michelle Andonian. If you don’t know Michelle, she is a remarkable woman with an endless impressive resume of accomplishments. Her work has appeared around the globe and her photographic eye is amazing. I have always enjoyed her work and for the first time I had a chance to sit and chat “shop” with her about my film documentary and her latest project. We are both recipients of a Knight Foundation grant.

The conversation for me was very inspiring. I felt an immediate connection and she provided some great feedback and encouragement for me as an artist.

As you can see, Saroyan’s quote ran deep that day. We share some of the same passions and dedication towards our Armenian ancestry, but we also share the importance of presenting our art forms the best way we know how. To me, this is equally important.

I have said time and time again, becoming a Kresge fellow was so much more than the cash prize, it was validation. Michelle knew exactly what I meant.

Michelle has a great project worth noting in this blog. The Knight Foundation also felt it was a great and worthwhile project to support. It is called “Hope Dies Last” and through a book of photos and essays surrounding the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Michelle sums it up nicely “Someday they will recognize what happened to us; not during my lifetime, but someday.”

She will unveil a book (her cousin journalist Bob Ourlian, Wall Street Journal is writing the essay portion) this coming September with subsequent public exposition. More importantly, please consider financially supporting her project. Its important — to her, the world of art, and an Armenian legacy. We produce these projects not for the accolades, but we know we need to leave behind something for the next generation.

Read more about her project by clicking here.

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