New Illuminations is a project by Suzi Banks Baum in collaboration with HAYP Pop Up Gallery. This is a multi-component project that aims to empower women, their voices and their personal embodied experiences through book making practice and storytelling. The project is comprised of three main parts: interviews, workshop, and exhibition.
The idea was born from Suzi Banks Baum’s first visit to Armenia in March of 2016. Baum and twelve other photo-journalists were invited by National Geographic photographer, John Stanmeyer and the 4Plus Photography team, Anush Babajanyan and Nazik Armenakyan, to travel to Gyumri, Armenia with a storyline. Baum conducted preliminary interviews with women artists in order to better understand the status of women artists in Gyumri, and the thresholds and challenges they face in their creative practice. Although she encountered women with “fierce” creative expression, she did not meet any book artists. This finding, along with her impressionable visit to Yerevan’s manuscript museum, the Matenadaran, left her wondering why this art form was discontinued in Armenia.
New Illuminations aims to revive a historic art making practice in Armenia, by introducing new tools of expression to a select group of artists. In addition, the workshop aims to create community and the exhibition, curated by Anna K. Gargarian of HAYP Pop Up Gallery, proposes new ways of engagement with the book arts.