Crosstone , Dalan, Matenadaran

Lilit Khachatryan, 25, is an art critic and photographer from COAF-supported Dalarik community, Armavir region. Currently she works at the History Museum of Armenia. She enjoys designing books and taking photos of museum pieces.

Lilit has been involved in COAF programs since childhood and is absolutely convinced that COAF has had a great impact on her life.

How I became a Photographer

When I was 14 or 15 years old, I didn’t know anything about COAF. I just learned that a photography club and a summer camp would be launched in Dalarik. I enrolled in the camp and liked it very much. We learned embroidering and organized “trade fairs.”

After that I decided to study photography. I just felt I would succeed in it and I was right. Armen, the club leader, helped me obtain many skills. I started taking photos and sending my works to various contests. Once, a photo of mine was included in the best 100 photos of the international contest Young Man in the 21st Century in Lithuania. It was published in different catalogues. Later, I took part in another photo competition in Armenia. This time, I was paid a monetary reward that helped me buy a photo camera.

I was excited by my success, but my teacher Armen kept saying that I was lazy, and that other people would achieve more just because of my laziness… However, as years passed, I went on photographing. I was trying to “dig into” the philosophy and techniques of the art of photography. I learned graphic arts, entered the State Academy of Fine Arts, became an art critic, and proved to my teacher Armen that I was not lazy…

When I give up I just know that COAF is beside me

In the process of studying at the Academy, I kept going to Dalarik almost every week to take part in the club sessions… Deep in my heart, I realized that I had achieved everything thanks to COAF… If COAF didn’t exist, I would never have what I have now.

Rural families have too many problems to solve – they must think about earning a living and hardly ever have time to disclose their kids’ talents. COAF has been filling that gap.

Thanks to COAF, I got acquainted to famous Canadian Armenian photographer Hrayr Hawk Khatcherian that visited our photo club session a few times. I have talked to him a lot. We became friends, and he gave me a lot of advice on photographing. I can definitely say that he has revealed new talents and skills in me.

COAF has, in a way, opened my eyes. I hadn’t even been to Yerevan… Actually, I had never been anywhere outside Dalarik before I got acquainted to COAF people.

Thanks to COAF, I realized that I am not just a part of “rural population.” I have skills that can be appreciated outside the borders of my community. I have characteristic features that used to be in a “sleep mode…” Also, my self- esteem has improved a lot.

Due to COAF, we “at villages” understood that we were unique… I used to be quite skeptical about my strengths but now it has changed. Now, even if I give up hope at times, I know that COAF is always beside me.

Sources of my inspiration

My mother has always been a source of inspiration for me. She has struggled a lot in her life… She has done everything so that I could succeed. Thanks to her, I am not scared of living and I can overcome any difficulties I face.

My mother has never made any artificial obstacles for my career. She has given me freedom because she trusts me. It has helped me a lot in my life. This year I had a solo exhibition in Dalan Art Gallery, and a part of my photos were displayed in the building of Matenadaran, the museum of ancient Armenian manuscripts. I have also started collaborating with the Armenian Apostolic Church in Bucharest, Romania. Hrayr Hawk Khatcherian will take photos of the collection of historical art treasures belonging to the church, and I will do the editing and design.

Of course, my teacher Armen has supported and inspired me a lot, too. His advice has been invaluable to me. Hrayr Hawk Khatcherian has played a great role in my life, too. He helped me perceive the significance of photography as an art. I had an input in the works of producing Khatcherian’s book Cross-Stone. And I have always thought that I would never have this life without the COAF support…

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