Sonia Balassanian
Born in 1942, Iran. Lives and works in New York and Yerevan. Artist and poet Sonia Balassanian is of Armenian descent. She has graduated from Joint Program of University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (Bachelor of Fine Arts, 1970) and Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, New York, (Master of Fine Arts, 1978). She is also an alumnus of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program.  From 1970 through 1979 Sonia has intermittently taught painting at Iran’s Institute of Fine Arts and National and Farabi Universities. Sonia Balassanian’s direction took a dramatic turn after the 1979 events in Iran. Henceforth, the artist who had started as an abstract painter turned to “political art” and became a social activist. She has exhibited at the New York Museum of Modern Art as well as many international venues. Balassanian has published 2 books of poems in Armenian (1982 and 1991), as well as an Artist’s Book of paintings entitled “Portraits” (1983).  Since 1992 Sonia Balassanian has been involved in Armenia organizing group exhibitions of contemporary art, which in 1994 culminated in founding of the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art (“NPAK” in Armenian acronym).  In 1995 Sonia Balassanian initiated historically first pavilion of the Republic of Armenia at Venice Biennale. She continued the effort until 2009, without interruption.  In Armenia Sonia Balassanian has introduced and helped advance mediums of installation, video art, and multi media events. Photo by Aza BW. Image courtesy of the artist.