This article first appeared in The Bedford Citizen.
“My work has several layers. I paint with the flow of life. I paint, collage, peel as time goes by. I repaint and repent and recycle until it reaches a moment of satisfaction.”
That’s one of the descriptions Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer, the artist behind the current art display – “Dialogues with Nature” at the Bedford Free Public Library Art Gallery – has for her artistic process. But it’s also an apt metaphor for the path of Heghinian Walzer’s rich history.
Heghinian Walzer’s Armenian grandparents were some of the thousands “torn from their roots” during the assaults and subsequent migration during the Turkish invasion at Musa Dagh in 1915. Her grandparents and parents survived the horrors of the Armenian Genocide and settled in Aleppo, Syria, where Heghinian Walzer was born and raised until she was 10 years old.
In 1968, her family immigrated to Watertown. Heghinian Walzer attended Watertown High School. Growing up, she enjoyed drawing, painting, dancing, and music, and she also really enjoyed science.
Heghinian Walzer entered a premed program at Boston University when she was a mere 16 years old. Within her first year attending B.U., her mother was diagnosed with terminal late-stage cancer and Heghinian Walzer’s plan shifted. Heghinian Walzer said with the grief of losing her mother, along with the many difficult hours spent in the hospital during the six months of her mother’s illness, that she “did not have the courage to continue [her] studies in medicine.” She changed focus from medicine and went on to earn a degree in biomedical engineering.
She worked as a biomedical engineer first for Honeywell in Lexington, and then in Berlin, Germany, where she moved with her husband in 1985.
While in Europe, Heghinian Walzer worked on designing pacemakers for Biotronic, gave birth to her children, and began her formal studies in the visual arts, painting, and stage design.
As the layers of Heghinian Walzer’s history were adding up, so was her passion for art. Two decades after returning from Europe to Massachusetts, Heghinian Walzer can be found creating art in the breezeway studio of her Lexington home (or moved further inside if it’s too cold) when she’s not consulting small businesses in IT and communication, volunteering, or serving nonprofits in leadership positions.
Heghinian Walzer’s art has been shown in Europe, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Florida, and California. She works with a range of materials and mediums such as oil, acrylic, ink, and pastels on canvas, burlap, and wood, and integrates recycled and found materials. The artist’s website shows a handful of focused series with collections of abstract paintings, collages, mixed media, and monotype prints. The focus of the series is different, however; with color and texture shining through nearly every work.
When asked about the inspiration for the “Dialogue with Nature” series curated for the Bedford Library gallery, Heghinian Walzer said, “Inspiration is everywhere. Observing the beauty and intricacies of nature can be incredibly inspiring. Finding inspiration in ‘Dialogue with Nature’ is a deeply personal and subjective experience.”
She finds, “Nature is full of metaphors and symbols that can be used to convey complex ideas or emotions.” The artist described nature as resilient, as is her family’s history. She is drawn to nature with a sense of purpose, both in creative expression and in action to protect the environment and nature’s vulnerabilities.
The artist statement accompanying the Library art exhibit calls the works “poetic abstractions” stemming from both “meditations on nature and from memories that are distilled into single dramatic moments.”
The art displayed is abstract and colorful textured paintings lining the light-filled open stairwells that make up the gallery space. The artist statement also cites the juxtapositioning and contrast of color to “imply an ongoing tension between freedom and containment edging the view closer to that place where chaos can erupt into clarity.” These are pieces created to stare at for a while.
Heghinian Walzer, who also had art displayed in the Biennial Juried Community Art Show at the Library this March, said that the Bedford Library and the arts committee were welcoming, pleasant, and made for an exceptional experience from curation to hanging and she is grateful to be chosen for an exhibit.
In return, Astrid Reischwitz, Carol Rissman, and Jean Hammond who make up the arts steering committee, encourage and invite the public to “come and see” the show!
The collection of art from Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer’s “Dialogue with Nature” series is available for viewing, free of charge, and accessible any time the Bedford Library is open through Nov. 8.
More information on the library gallery can be found on the library’s website. Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer’s work is represented by Galaray House in Lexington and can be found at https://www.swalzer.com.