A girl, a paintbrush and a dream. Fresh face Sona Yeghiazaryan uses her worldly experience to bring her creative touch to West Essex. With radiance as vibrant as a bright watercolor, Yeghiazaryan is bound to add a splatter of insight to her studio art, digital photography and graphic design classes.
With confidence and a refreshing smile, it could come as a surprise that Yeghiazaryan has only been part of the West Essex family for a week. She has a plethora of experience under her belt, and strives to use it to help her students navigate a journey of artistic self-discovery.
“I want them to leave being able to do something they weren’t able to do before,” Yeghiazaryan said. “Whatever that is. If that is being able to speak loudly and confidently, let that be it. If that’s being able to draw the human figure correctly then I’m okay with it, or if it’s being noticed for the first time in their life. Walk out of my room being able to be someone you weren’t able to be before, or knowing something you didn’t know before.”
Yeghiazaryan’s obsession with art has defined her life for as long as she can remember. While growing up in Armavir, Armenia, she spent her free time rummaging through her father’s art studio, blown away by the materials that made artistic beauty possible. This exposure made Yeghiazaryan sure that her future was going to include art. Before moving to the United States, she studied Fine Arts at the Hakob Kojoyan School and the Academy of Fine Arts in Yerevan, Armenia, and already gained lots of recognition for her work.
Although Yeghiazaryan has lived in the U.S. for around two decades, her life remains deeply connected to her roots. One of her biggest inspirations is Armenian artist Martiros Saryan, who she defines as having a direct influence on her own style. Since moving to the United States at just 17 years old, Armenian culture is still extremely significant to Yeghiazaryan’s life. She continues to satisfy her craving for home by replicating a traditional Armenian household for her children.
“One of the best ways for me to maintain my culture and to practice being an Armenian person in a different country is through food,” Yeghiazaryan said. “I absolutely adore and love food. Food is the language of love for me.”
It is not only her Armenian roots that make her stand out, but the way she uses the struggles of immigration to add a unique perspective to her work. She has this rare opportunity to express how art mended her feelings of isolation caused by her inability to communicate with those around her.
“It is important for me to create a space where all differences are irrelevant,” Yeghiazaryan said, as she describes her promise to help make all students feel as welcome as her art teacher made her feel, despite the obvious barriers.
No matter how interesting her story is or how captivating her work may be, Yeghiazaryan never wants to influence the message behind students’ art. Instead, her priority is providing her classes with all of the skills, technique and drive they need in order to share their own voices with the world.
“I think we all have gifts and things to say, so I enjoy listening to my students’ valuable ideas by giving them the tools to express themselves,” Yeghiazaryan said. She wants to help them learn about themselves and the process of art before handing over the reins and letting them create on their own.