Born in Worcester, MA, Annamarta Dostourian was raised by four grandparents who were survivors of the Armenian Genocide, a father with passions for art, engineering and spirituality, and a vibrant entrepreneurial mother who guided the family through a lifestyle of international travels with a focus on their homeland Armenia. As a young adult, Dostourian activated her fight for justice through political activism, fueled a compassion for her grandparent’s personal experiences. Her imbedded love for travel primed her for several influential trips throughout India, Mexico and Europe. The foundational awareness of spirituality she gained from her time in various parts of India and Mexico along with her personal navigations of centuries of western art throughout Europe nurtured her political activism and art practice as an adult.
Dostourian began her current investigations as an artist at an early age at the Worcester Art Museum at the age of nine and completed her undergraduate education closer to home back in Massachusetts at Clark University, earning at degree in psychology and art in 1984. During these years she also studied in England at University of Sussex. In 1990, she came out west enrolling at the San Francisco Art Institute where she worked with Richard Berger and John Roloff in the sculpture and installation departments for two years. Eager to commence her own art practice outside of being a full-time student, Dostourian worked independently taking select classes at SFSU with sculptor Leonard Hunter while immersing herself in the Bay Area art scene. In 1999, Hunter introduced Dostourian to SOMArts curator René Yañez invited her to participate in her first of 10 annual Day of the Dead installations at SOMArts.
Since then her work has also been exhibited at 5 Claude Lane Gallery, Mina Dresden Gallery, Berkeley Art Center, Creative Growth Art Center, and O’Hanlon Art Center. In 2011, her work was included in California Finale Juried Exhibition through RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation in collaboration with 5 Claude Lane Gallery and Bombay Sapphire. Since 2011, Dostourian’s wearable sculptures have been exhibited at four-annual Hot Couture Fashion/Art Event at Crucible Art Gallery in Oakland and filmed by Oliver De Lantsheer (Billboard Magazine, Supernatural Factory) in his film Vicarious Reality created for 2016 Film Fashion Award by Nick Knight in London, England. Her works have been noted in San Francisco Chronicle Style Section, Fuse Magazine, CounterPULSE Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times amongst others and recognized by Alan Bamberger of Artbusiness.com in 2007 and 2011.
Dostourian lives and maintains her studio practice in Berkeley, CA.
Inspired by spiritual and mythological elements of the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, my installations and sculptural works unfold multi-dimensional realities to give a sense of light and pathway to freedom from personal, political and ethnic oppression. My art physically and conceptually weaves together the personal and sacred to provide healing; it serves to acknowledge of history of present and past that wishes to be forgotten. As an Armenian, I personally carry the weight of several generations who survived genocide. This struggle amongst my family has empowered me to move from a cultural state of confusion to one of co-fusion, the psyche’s way of fusing disparate things together. My practice relies on the meditative practice of weaving and the practice of ritual connected through the creation of our rugs, woven for milestones in life. My artwork seeks to translate these traditional forms of women’s work into a contemporary practice with industrial materials such as copper, bronze and silver wire as well as constructed experiential spaces. Using light and projections to create chiaroscuro (contrasting light and shadow), I activate the spaces I create with these holographic fields of pulsating energy and subatomic particles as well as structural forms referencing architecture, manuscripts and sculpture of Armenia and other cultures. Using the patterns and forms from Armenian rugs and ceremonial tradition, I have worked to create a systematic language to highlight our rich and colorful history. These rugs use geometric patterns to delineate sacred space and to create magical windows. My sculptures embrace these forms as passageways to explore ideas of what is beyond our current context in order to provide a space of hope. While my installations have welcomed viewers to experience the physical and psychological spaces I have created, my wearable sculptural works serve not only as objects but also as extensions of the body and mind. More than ever, these extensions of our past and present are essential in today’s shifting political climate. My art attempts to provide healing spiritual spaces of empowerment and worthiness from the darkness and into a luminous ethereal beauty.