Elina Mir (Leonora Mirijanyan) is an engineer by profession. For the last 18 years, she has been living with her family in the United States. Although she works as an engineer, Elina never imagined herself to be an engineer. Elina has loved to create since she was a child. She worked as a journalist in Armenia, writing poetry and short stories in her spare time. Before moving to the United States, two books of Elina’s short stories, When All Doors Are Closed and Disenchantment,were published in Armenian.
Currently, she creates mixed media art pieces, which give life to various inanimate objects and decorate the environment with its wonderful colors and shades. Creating for Elina has long since evolved from a hobby to a second profession, with which she not only lives, but satisfies her hunger. Elina not only creates, but also teaches others to create. She is a member of the Armenian Artists’ Union and the American Armenian Writers’ Union of Los Angeles.
– Elina, why did you choose this branch of art, does it give you a wider opportunity to create?
– I started to create in the genre of mixed media, because here, in addition to paints, different materials and objects are used. That is, any object in the environment can be used to create new work.
– Where did the idea to create in that genre come from? What was the first work?
– On the birthday of my middle daughter, I wanted to give her something special, something that would reflect her uniqueness. As a result, I came up with a work of mixed media that was personal to her. After that, I started making other works, exploring different themes and combining different materials. Then I began to paint with acrylics. I love creating in the abstract genre, because I’m free and more relaxed there. In my opinion, abstract works convey more information than classical works. In the case of a classic art, you look at it once, admire it, but in the abstract you can look endlessly and find something new each time.
– You also work with hard materials, especially glass, to create mosaic works. Is it easy or difficult to work with hard materials as a woman?
– Yes, lately I have been engaged in mosaic, which also gives me endless opportunities to create. Making art with glass, tile, and other materials is a meditative process, but it requires skill and care, and it also challenges me creatively and allows me to explore different ways of doing things. I can’t live a day without creativity. It is the meaning of my life, where I soar into infinity and admire beauty. Creating for me is like meditation, which helps to get away from everyday worries, to recharge and to overcome even seemingly insurmountable difficulties.
– Did you create in Armenia?
Yes, but in Armenia I was engaged more in crafts like sewing, knitting. There are so many opportunities to create in the United States that it is simply impossible not to use them.
– Is it difficult to live far from Armenia? Do you miss Armenia, or when you create, do you mix the longing for the homeland with the feelings of the moment and try to alleviate it?
– This is the most painful issue for me, because it is very difficult for me to live far from Armenia. Every day I visit Armenia in my mind, my whole day is spent with news from Armenia, and I want to know the details of any event. In my opinion, more than half of Armenians living here start and end their day with the same feelings. We only live outside Armenia physically, we are always in Armenia in our minds.
– In my opinion, a creative person is not an ordinary consumer, and in addition to household needs, he also has spiritual needs. In the United States, where life absorbs human time and essence like a vacuum cleaner, is it easy to find mental nourishment in a chaotic world?
– I can say that it is easier to find food for your soul here, because there are no restrictions. You can change course in every stage of your life and choose, learn and develop in any new direction. Those who make money by creating, of course, have a few challenges, but it is easier for those for whom creating is a second profession. I am one of those people who find pleasure in creating and do not think about making money with it. I love to dedicate my works to those who appreciate my art, which gives me great pleasure.
– Doesn’t contact with other people affect your way of thinking? In other words, is it easy to stay Armenian on foreign shores?
– I work with people of different nationalities. Many people of different nationalities living in America choose to assimilate, but Armenians are able to maintain their identity, cuisine and customs. Americans, by the way, have more respect for those who preserve their own history and nationality. Wherever Armenians go, they must always be careful to stay true to their heritage. We have no right to forget our culture because they are truly unique. I think that’s the best thing you can not ever ignore. I have no doubt that the Armenian nation will survive, but it would be great for every Armenian to be closer to his roots.
– At the end of the conversation, what would you add as a summary?
– During the shows of different countries, when the name of an Armenian is mentioned, I feel enormous pride, but the next second I feel abundant pain that they represent another country. In such cases, I am always saddened and ask myself why they should not represent our country. Why should an Armenian live far from his homeland, why should we be scattered all over the world?
– Maybe there was a need for Armenians to live abroad, to face difficulties, to harden and return to their homeland with a new breath, in order to value our homeland in a different way?
– My husband and I have a profound desire to return to Armenia, but I find it difficult to say what decision my children will make. In any case, one thing is clear – we must cherish the homeland and not be afraid of difficulties. This is what has happened in many countries. I have no doubt that Armenia will join the number of developed countries in the world, especially after the change of government. We all live with that hope and I am sure that we will not be disappointed.
The conversation was conducted by Armine Grigoryan
Los Angeles, 2020