Well before I ever stepped foot on the soil of my ancestral homeland, I was aware of the vital role the arts played in the life of Armenia. Yet on every visit, as I meander through the streets of Yerevan, its capital, I am still struck by the abundance of statues honoring Armenia’s national heroes. Crowding the city’s center, some lay hidden amidst leafy oases, while others command public gardens or anchor a major square. Many stand guard before important civic buildings, asserting their dominion with watchful eyes. They have helped me to both navigate my way around the city and learn my people’s history. But years after my first impressions, as a result of the statue removals back home, I began to see Armenia’s monuments differently.
This essay, which appears in The Hedgehog Review, was inspired by events at home around the monument controversy and my discovery of a different paradigm for the creation of monuments through my visits to Armenia.