Bergen Community College will celebrate the Armenian people’s triumph over tragedy with the New Jersey premiere of “The Armenians: Spirit of Survival,” a photography exhibit sponsored by the College’s Center for the Study of Intercultural Understanding, the Bergen Community College Peace, Justice and Reconciliation Center and the Bergen Community College Foundation.
Gallery Bergen, the College’s 2,250-square-foot art exhibition space, will house the display from Saturday, April 25, 2009 to Friday, May 22, 2009. The gallery is located on the third floor of the College’s high-technology and arts building, West Hall, at 400 Paramus Road, Paramus. The gallery’s hours of operation are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.
The exhibit, provided by Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, Inc., chronicles the struggle of the Armenian people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as their culture, religion, language and very existence were threatened by the Ottoman, Russian and Persian empires, and then later by the Soviet Union. The Armenian people were the targets of the 20th-century’s first genocide, which led to the deaths of as many as 1.5 million people in 1915. The Armenians persevered – in spite of great loss – and found the spirit needed to thrive.
Ruth Thomasian, executive director of Project SAVE, will conduct a presentation on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 2 p.m. in Gallery Bergen on the origins of the Armenian photograph archives and on the development of the exhibition. Project SAVE, founded in 1975, is a Watertown, Mass.-based nonprofit whose mission is to collect, document and preserve the historic and modern photographic record of Armenians and their heritage. Thomasian maintains the world’s only photographic archive chronicling the journey of the Armenian people.
The Gallery Bergen display will feature 40 large photographs and include text documenting the Armenians’ internment, mass execution and subsequent diaspora from Asia Minor. Project SAVE’s 25,000 photographs, which date from 1860, feature families living during the Ottoman, Russian and Persian empires, the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Armenia.
Members of Project SAVE work closely with photo donors to obtain the images, which have appeared at Ellis Island Museum in New York, the Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C., and in many books and television programs.
According to the U.S. Census for 2000, there are 1.5 million people of Armenian descent in the U.S. Bergen County has 8,305 Armenian Americans, most of whom reside in the southeastern part of the county.
Bergen Community College is a public two-year coeducational college, enrolling more than 15,000 students in Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, and Associate in Applied Science degree programs and certificate programs. More than 10,000 students are enrolled in non-credit, professional courses through the Division of Continuing Education, the Institute for Learning in Retirement, the Philip J. Ciarco Jr. Learning Center, located at 355 Main Street, Hackensack, and Bergen at the Meadowlands, located at 1280 Wall Street West, Lyndhurst. Information about the College is available at www.bergen.edu or by phoning the Welcome Center at (201) 447-7200