The Akin Edition started when Joanna Kambourian found her grandmother’s hand carved wood block that was hidden in the grooves of her radiator. Prints and patterns run through her blood, as her great grandfather was a rug seller and collector, travelling all over Europe and the Ottoman Empire, while her grandmother studied textile design.
Inspired by the intricate patterns of her grandfather’s rugs and woodblock prints of her grandmother, Joanna sparked a journey of exploration, a search for identity and a mission to tell stories from a forgotten past. This edition serves as a connection to her past, a declaration of her present and a participation in the ongoing story telling of her culture.
Identifying as a multidisciplinary artist and all round creative who is passionate about the arts and community, she considers her identity an ongoing work in progress, and her cultural background is a constant negotiation between Australian and American, Armenian and Dutch ancestry.
How did Ms Browns Lounge come about?
During my studies as an exchange student at Pratt Institute, I lived in Brooklyn and spent time exploring with my fellow exchangees – each one of us from a different place with many different cultural identities. We would meet up and spend time drinking coffee and eating in a local restaurant on Myrtle Avenue called Maggie Browns. Maggie Browns had a fabulous atmosphere and flocked wallpaper, and this re-ignited in me a passion and interest in pattern design.
My studio name is a nostalgic throwback to a very formative time in my life and career as a visual artist. It encompasses the practice of both myself and my partner also an Artist & Printmaker who joined me in New York and went on to meet my entire family, spread out across the world.
At the same time I was being re-introduced to my American-Armenian family and I began to encounter the rugs handed down through the family by my Great Grandfather. This then sparked an investigation into my Armenian cultural heritage which saw me travel to Armenia as part of a documentary series shown on Australian TV in 2008. My current preoccupation is to find a way to return to Armenia, to bring my skills and passion for visual arts there. My practice has become a way to explore a contemporary multicultural and borderlands identity.
What is your biggest challenge as an artist and print maker?
Defining my practice is constantly the biggest challenge! I am curious and typically am always interested in applying my skills to a great range of projects.
Keeping up with myself and what I’m working on at any one time (usually a number of things) is also a challenge. However I’d like to think that constantly challenging myself as a creative is the best way to stay inspired!
What motivates you to create?
Curiosity, relatedness, connectedness, engagement, community, expression. These define my creative process which in turn defines my life and how I live.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I don’t plan too far ahead, I like to take life in a moment to moment approach. However visiting and spending time in Armenia would definitely be in that not too distant future. I hope to be continuing to let my creativity direct me and make connections between my work and my life.