January 30, 2013 - 15:06 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Art Center College of Design and the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial Committee (PASAGMC) jointly announced the winning design concept for a new memorial whose planned dedication in 2015 will coincide with 100th anniversary commemorations of the Armenian Genocide.
The concept by Art Center Environmental Design student Catherine Menard was developed in 2012 as part of the College’s social impact design program, Designmatters. The proposed site for the public artwork is Memorial Park in the City of Pasadena.
Menard’s concept was one of 17 submissions the committee received, and one of three finalists chosen by an independent panel of judges in December. The three-judge panel included Stefanos Polyzoides, a principal of Moule & Polyzoides, Architects and Urbanists; Ruben Amirian, an architect/artist who has served on the design review board and historic commission in Glendale; and Neshan Peroomian, a contractor and prominent Armenian-American community leader.
In all, six Environmental Design students at Art Center developed memorial proposals last fall during an intensive Design Topic Studio class and submitted them to the competition. Two of the students — Menard and her classmate J.D. Clark — were selected as finalists, a particularly impressive achievement in a field of competitors that included many seasoned professionals. Earlier this month, Board members of PASAGMC voted unanimously to move forward with Menard’s proposal.
“This was a competitive process, and we considered a number of very fine proposals,” says Committee Chair William M. Paparian, Esq., an attorney and former Mayor of Pasadena. “But our final decision was unanimous. We were deeply impressed by Catherine, who developed and presented an emotionally compelling design for a historical event that she initially knew nothing about. We hope that this memorial will inspire a similar emotional connection in those who encounter it, for generations to come.”
“With tremendous pride, we congratulate Catherine Menard on her creative and inspiring memorial design that will have profound and lasting impact in the community,” says Art Center President Lorne M. Buchman. “The extraordinary talent and commitment of our students and faculty continue to find meaningful expression locally and globally through a remarkable range of social impact projects.”
Greater Los Angeles is home to the largest population of Armenians in the United States, many descended from families persecuted and killed between 1915 and 1921.
Menard, 26, is a seventh-term Environmental Design major at Art Center and expects to graduate this year. Of French Cajun heritage, she was born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and moved with her family to Los Angeles at age four. She currently resides in Pasadena.
“I’m a Southern California girl with a Southern heart,” she says with a smile.
Initially invited to join the project by Environmental Design Associate Professor James Meraz, Menard came into it with little knowledge of Armenian history. “But I have always felt drawn to history and heritage,” she says, “drawn to anything with any semblance of meaning.”
Menard immersed herself in accounts of the Armenian Genocide as well as the recent history of memorial art, including the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, designed by Maya Lin who, like Menard, was a student at the time she won the competition.