• Miriam Arzoumanian, Stillbirth, born with ambiguous genitalia and renal cysts, Mixed media, 30 x 48", 2020
  • Miriam Arzoumanian, Premature delivery, Stillbirth, hydrops fetalis associated with skeletal anomalies, Mixed media, 24 x 43", 2020
  • Miriam Arzoumanian, Premature delivery, Stillbirth, hydrops fetalis associated with skeletal anomalies (4), Charcoal on collograph print,12 x 10", 2020
  • Miriam Arzoumanian, Stillbirth, born with ambiguous genitalia and renal cysts (3), Blind emboss, 8 x 7", 2020
  • Miriam Arzoumanian, Born on the 25th of Apr. 2020, The 1st baby to her parents born with multiple congenital anomalies (2), Mixed media, 7 x 6", 2020

As a first generation American, I am at the intersection of several different cultural and national histories. My parents, being the latest immigrants in our lineage from Lebanon to Texas, have taught me the stories and the traumas that have been passed down from generation to generation. I feel as though that puts me in a unique perspective living in the United States in 2020 because even what is unknown to the average American, can still be felt in the body. In order to explore this notion of intergenerational trauma, I present you with two ways of formal design in this body of work: images of wombs made highly textural and painted white; and prints using a technique called “blind embossing” that is embossing without ink. 

The compositions in this series, “Generational Work”, are informed by photographs of babies with defects born in Fallujah, Iraq after bombings in the year 2004. These radiation effects represent the imprint of trauma on the body that often goes unrecognized. With intuitive artistic decisions of construction and destruction, these illusionistic babies are born from a nest of mainly paper and plastic packaging. I allow the pieces to grow as they wish, which often demands my own entire body to participate in its creation. These wombs start off as 2D but soon demand to be 3D. It is not until I cast a white wash over top does the history of the material disappear;all that is visible is the patterns and underlying structure. 

With the blind embossing print technique, I create plates that take a similar form of very textural compositions of defects, but now on a more limited scale. The true magic happens once these pieces are run through a printmaking press under high pressure, transferring the low relief plates onto blank paper representing a new life. I see our birth as such: the collapsing of time and space as we know it. We are the physical manifestations of all the history that has preceded us. We may not always know how but we can see it manifested in our behavioral patterns and sometimes even in our genetic makeup.

Not only do I wish to honor these unborn children from Iraq, but shine a light on how this phenomenon can be applied everywhere. Trauma can no longer be something to be feared and stuffed away, but studied tenderly. While you look at these pieces, I ask you to think about what your body may carry. What is it telling you? For we are the physicality of experience and discovery of co-creation, between us and the material.