Lexington MInutemen April 18, 2019

By Martha Crosier Wood / marthacwood@rcn.com

Scene and Herd Heghinian-Walzer to participate in Open Studios

Posted Apr 22, 2019 at 12:28 PMUpdated Apr 22, 2019 at 12:32 PM

For Sirarpi Heghinian-Walzer, the art she creates is her way to open communication to others about her spirituality, her concerns about current issues including immigration, the environment, the wall and women’s issues, and her hopes for the future.

A mixed media artist, her work includes collages incorporating found objects, bold abstracts and encaustics (painting with pigmented hot beeswax). She works in oil paint, acrylics and ink.

Heghinian-Walzer is one of the artists opening her door at 5 Fulton Rd. to the public during Lexington’s free Open Studios throughout the town April 27-28. One of her abstracts is on display now in the lower level of Cary Memorial Library. Her work is also on exhibit at Gallery Twist’s annual printmaking show until May 5. Her webpage is swalzer.com.

She isn’t interested in what could be called “living room art,” but rather she hopes her art speaks to social justice.

“I was born recycling,” she laughs. “I collect the things others throw out and that I don’t need either, so I’m trying to use them in my collages such as old newsprint and pieces of fabric.” She also collects bits of bark and things she finds in the woods near her home. At one point she painted on birch bark.

“I am trying to simplify my art,” she commented. “I find a little color goes a long way.”

“Simple things inspire me. Love inspires me. For me, inspiration is everywhere – the laughter of children for example.”

“It’s not easy for me to put my philosophy into words. The best way for me to express myself is through my painting,” Heghinian-Walzer continued. “My philosophy of art is really similar to that of Transcendentalism -- Thoreau and Emerson – of having an inner vision of the landscape and having a dialog with nature.”

Heghinian-Walzer didn’t originally plan to be an artist, but rather, like her older siblings, to be involved in some form of science.

She grew up in an Armenian neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria in a two-room house next to homes of relatives. Family was and is very important to her. She was the youngest of six children with four sisters and one brother. They played outside and in the summer they slept outside. Her memories are all very happy. She immigrated to America when she was 13. An uncle had come first, settling in Watertown. He encouraged her parents to come.

“My family really came to America for the educational opportunities for their children,” Heghinian-Walzer said. She graduated from high school at age 16 and Boston University accepted her into its six-year program in which she would graduate as a physician. She eventually realized she didn’t want to be a doctor and graduated as a biomedical systems engineer in 1979, getting her masters at BU in 1982.

“I always liked science. It was easy for me,” she commented.

After graduation, she took a job with Honeywell in Lexington developing mammography equipment. Then Honeywell switched its emphasis to developing military equipment. She worked on night vision equipment to be used on tanks. She did well at it, but realized she didn’t want to work on military equipment and moved to a smaller company.

She first moved to Lexington in 1979, living here six years until her then-husband took a position in Germany. There she worked for a company making pacemakers and began taking art classes in the evening. Her teachers encouraged her to move into art full time. She followed their advice and studied painting and theater design at Die Etage, Arts Akademie, Berlin, and visual art, painting and theater stage design at Berlin University of the Arts.

She returned to Lexington in 1998.

She is a former member of Lexington Arts Council, a current member of the Concord Art Association, a board and artist member of the Cambridge Art Association and member of First Parish’s Arts committee. She is a founding member and director of Art Without Borders, an on-line organization founded to help immigrant artists.

Heghinian-Walzer co-chairs Lexington’s Nonprofit Net founded by Narain Bhatia. She is very enthusiastic about this free service and urges everyone involved in the nonprofit world to attend its free seminars held at the library and the community center. (The next seminar at 1:30 p.m. May 14 at the library focuses on the nuts and bolts of direct mail and email.)

But she always returns to her art.

“Art is healing for the artist and is a way of giving back to others and opening a dialog,” she explains.

“Because of my love of science, I believe in rules, but I always like pushing boundaries and trying different ways of doing things. I had an art professor who always aid art should have a surprise,” she said.

“My art leaves me in peace. It makes me happy. Hope always grows. We are going into spring, a time of renewal with flowers and other plants reappearing.”


FEATURED ARTIST in Still Harbor's Anchor Magazine

Please join writer, Elizabeth Kirschner, for a celebration and reception of her award-winning memoir, WAKING THE BONES, on Tuesday, May 3rd at 6:00 p.m. at West End Theatre, 959 Islington Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801. Kirschner will be joined by co-collaborators, composer Pamela Marshall and painter Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer in order to create a dynamic evening.

Kirschner’s WAKING THE BONES, published by RiverRun Books last spring, was the winner of the Inaugural North Street Book Prize for best work of nonfiction by an independent author. The book was selected out of a field of four hundred international entries. The cover art is Heghinian Walzer’s.

Kirschner has published six previous volumes of poetry, including, Surrender to Light, 2009, Cherry Grove Editions and My Life as a Doll, 2008, Autumn House Press. My Life as a Doll was nominated for the Lenore Marshall Prize and named Kirschner as the Literary Arts Fellow in state of Maine in 2010. She has also published over two dozen essays with The Coal Hill Review and is widely published in other literary magazines, both nationally and internationally.

She has been writing and teaching across four decades. Most recently, she taughtin Fairfield University’s low-residency Program in Creative Writing. Extensive teachingexperience includes Boston College, Boston University and Carnegie-Mellon University. She now offers local Poetry and Memoir Writing Workshops.

Kirschner has been collaborating with Pamela Marshall and Sirarpi Heghinian Walzer for years....




My mixed media abstractions echo the ideas and values that take center stage in my thoughts, representing an ongoing tension between freedom and containment and edging both the artist and the viewer closer to that place where chaos can erupt into clarity and memories are distilled into single dramatic moments. I use the color white to suggest purity and simplicity and to act as a unifying field for deliberately juxtaposed disparate images. 

I resonate with the term Pentimento, made famous by Lillian Hellman. The term comes from an Italian word and describes an artist changing her mind, or “repenting.” This idea is made visible by a former painting peeking though the over-painting when it ages. This term feels true to me not only as a painting phenomenon but also as a human one, describing how the past percolates into the present in our lives. My memories color and shape my present reality into layered compositions—an amalgam of different selves fusing together in the moment.

Born in Aleppo, Syria, I immigrated to the United States when I was 13 years old. This immigrant experience also finds expression in my work. In many pieces, I express my empathy for those suffering loss, displacement, and the universal fear of homelessness. 

I believe an artist’s role is to reveal the beauty in things that are dying or simply not pretty. To this end, I remove idealized female forms from magazines and reformulate them in my art, inventing a more passionate, reasoned, and realistic beauty. §

For more information, contact swalzer@swalzer.com