Using Public Art to Promote Social Change in Armenia

Part of InternewsNext, a series highlighting 30 youth-led media initiatives.

Children paint a wall.
Children paint at Social Art 2012 in English Park in Yerevan. (credit: Eiva_am/Flickr)

Public art with a social agenda is something fairly new in Armenia. Young artist and activist Lea Mkhitaryan recently founded the Eiva Arts Foundation to promote development of social consciousness through art. The organization’s People Daily: Art and Media project, funded by a small grant from Internews, aims to raise public awareness of human rights and social issues in Armenia through visual media content (illustrated stories, photo stories, PSAs and other forms of interactive visual arts), street art installations, and participatory public events. The foundation’s slick and colorful website, Eiva.am, got over 13,000 hits in October.

The project’s first public appearance was at BarCamp Yerevan 2012, where participants created doodle stories of the event, modeled on the well-known Google doodles. In July, the first installment of the street art project “Elephant and Pelmingo” appeared on the ground in front of the Armenian Center for Contemporary Experimental Art. The rest of the story will be replicated in other towns.

In August, the team created a PSA using stop-motion animation dedicated to migration issues in Armenia called “The Very Last One.”

See more of the project’s social art stories.

On October 13, Eiva was invited to lead a session on volunteering and leadership at AISEC in Armenia’s Youth to Business Forum, which connects enterprising young people and forward-thinking business leaders around the country. Later that month, the project held SocialArt, a public painting event for civic action, in English Park in Yerevan. 150 people created more than 220 paintings on social themes in one day. The fifty best paintings are being published on Eiva.am. 

The project’s first hosted exhibition, called “The Human,” is taking place at the Bureaucrat Bookstore in Yerevan from November 27-December 6, 2012.  

Eiva distributes a monthly newsletter of activities and is active on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Youtube, and Flickr.

The People Daily: Art and Media project is supported by a small grant from Internews with funding from USAID.

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