Mher TarakjianHarvard University Graduate School of Design
Master in Design Studies
Huys Scholar 2023
I am a proud editorial member of the collective Armenian Creatives. In 2018, together with a few artist friends, we founded the Armenian Creatives group with the purpose of exchanging developments in artistic ideas and experiences. Through this collective, we host free-form get-togethers to provide a setting to discuss projects that may or may not have to do with being Armenian, cultivating a community of integral support, and infectious creativity. Since the collective’s inception, we’ve hosted a variety of programs: lace-making and bookbinding workshops, organized creative writing sessions in Armenian, paired fellow creatives to collaborate on projects. In 2021, we self-published our first biannual AC Publication 01, which was featured in an article in the Armenian Mirror-Spectator, and we sold almost the entire print batch in various bookstores around the country! For Publication 01, I’ve worked with one of my colleagues to translate three of Zahrad’s poems to shed light on nuances and stories of the Armenian experience for English-speaking audiences. I also wrote the essay “Disappearance in Memory and Architecture” about the Armenian monuments in Western Armenia and the Armenian Pavilion at Venice Biennale, showcasing how our memory and willingness to remember writes our history and our future.
Earlier this year, we self-published our first volume of the bilingual publication series Այն Բառերը, Որ Մեզի Կը Նուիրեն I Those Words, That Offer To Us. Which I am a co-editor along with two of my dear colleagues, Caroline and Katie. Supported by արդ եւս | in view grant from Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, we imagined an experimental project of semantics and sentiment in the form of multiple publications, each of which examines the Western Armenian language through the activity of translation. Throughout this series, we approach translation expansively, starting with the many vessels in which language is held—such as poetry, literature, handwritten manuscripts, songs, and cultural discourse. We wish to explore what words in Western Armenian offer to us as a community and individuals established in homelands as well as of diaspora. Today, we are working on our next anthology book due summer 2023, and the second volume of the translation publication estimated delivery late 2023. Through these works and projects, I continue to develop my passion for Armenian culture and learn to be a humble and resourceful contributor to our global community.
I find that the Armenian Creatives collective has been a successful format in bringing together artists with diverse trajectories and backgrounds to share different experiences, dreams, and ambitions. For instance, we’ve developed solidarity through a series of gatherings to discuss the
Black Lives Matter movement as well as Palestinean struggles. During these meetings, we hold space to address intersectional differences across our group, as well as circulate direct actions. In my next chapter, I plan to continue this rigorous volunteer work because I believe such dialogues on histories, politics, artists-expressions, cultural identities, carried in contexts of global solidarity and through acts of dissemination and artistic production, goes a long way in sustaining fragile communities and shedding light on injustices in all peripheries of the world.
Finally, in my professional career as an architect with multi-trajectory interests, and throughout my 10-year career in Architecture in New York, I saw how the frenzy of economic activities, geopolitical power struggles, and alienation of nature or land expedited the climate change crisis. This research topic is what brought me to the Harvard Graduate School of Design. I am looking for ways to create a more peaceful coexistence, where human societies perform economic and social activities in ways that are more choreographed and attuned to non-human or natural cycles. Throughout the first year of my program, I took courses to help me learn to do exactly that. I joined the seminars “Confronting Climate Change” at the School of Government, “Power & Energy” and “Ecologies Proseminar” at the School of Design, and “Inequality” at the school of Philosophy. I believe these topics and approaches taught by very special faculty will serve my research on societal injustices, political ecologies, and how we can construct, not only in architecture but in our everyday lives, new systems that attune now disconnected two equilibria; societal and natural.
Hence, Huys Foundation’s vision of “an academically and professionally inter-connected and collaborating Armenian nation” is what I strive for, and via the scholarship program, I look forward to the opportunity to be a humble and a more resourceful contributor to our global community.
I am aware that Huys Foundation is granting the Huys Scholarship to me with the anticipation of my good faith pursuit and implementation of the projects and undertakings described in this letter, to which I hereby commit.