Mother's Hands Monument

Story of the Monument / Unvailing Photo Album

by Daniel Varoujan Hejinian

99 years ago the world community turned a blind eye on the most horrible crime ever committed against humanity, when 1.5 million Armenians living in Ottoman territories were murdered.

99 years later, on May 10, 2014 we are witnessing the dedication of "A Mother's Hands" Monument in memory of the victims of the Armenian genocide. Our mothers were dream weavers, they weaved the fabric of our culture, and later they weaved the flag of independent Armenia.

The subject of weaving also pays tribute to the women who worked in the Lowell Mills. in the early 20th century women held nearly two-thirds of all textile jobs in Lowell, with many immigrant women including Armenians who fled to the United States to escape genocide.

I was honored to be asked by the Merrimack Valley Armenian Genocide Monument Committee to design this monument because my parents were survivors of the genocide and I grew up with that legacy. I asked the Committee to give me total freedom to design a few renderings of the monument, with a request that the one they would pick would not be subject to changes. Although the Committee graciously agreed to my terms, the size and the shape of the monument was determined by the city, to balance the existing Portuguese monument on the opposite side of the building entrance. After several months of study, I came up with a few designs, the committee picked "A Mother's Hands" with my description, to be placed on the base of the monument.

On Wednesday, April 11, 2012 the Merrimack Valley Armenian Genocide Monument Committee met with the City of Lowell officials and presented the monument design and the description, to be placed on the base of the monument. The very next day the Lowell Department of Planning & Development approved the project to proceed with the design and the description, as presented..

I was inspired to create this monument by remembering my mother's hands constantly knitting and crocheting, as a model I used my sister Lena's hands. My mother survived the genocide by crossing the Syrian Desert Der Zor, during the forced deportation from her home, she was only ten years old. Her father and uncles had been killed. Her mother and her sister died during the desert crossing.

There is an actual piece of crochet, made by my mother's hands buried, in the foundation of the monument. The meaning of the embroidered piece that was placed in the concrete is symbolic. As an artist I was inspired by my mother, who was always crocheting, transforming simple thread into beautiful things. Just as her crochet inspired the creation of the monument, the symbolic piece will connect the crochet flowers in the foundation to the blooming cross. This is a symbolic gesture connecting all aspects of this monument.

There are approximately 230 monuments dedicated to the Armenian Genocide in 42 countries around the world. Most of the monuments are located in land belonging to Armenian churches or organizations. What is special about this monument is that, it is a first in the diaspora, an Armenian Genocide Memorial is placed in public land owned by the city, in front of a government building.

Also special about this monument, is the history of its creation, the combination of bronze and stone, the solid granite symbolized the body while the inlaid bronze symbolized the soul. This monument has been cut from granite blasted by the storming send. The mother's weaving hands were sculpted in clay and then went through fire and casting, melting, burning out, and finally the bronze was poured into the mold. Just as the history of the Armenian people, whose churches had been burned and homes has been destroyed and even today, in the Syrian town Der Zor , the bones of Armenians can still be found in the desert sands; and in spite of the pain and horror of the genocide, knot by knot, the Armenian people everywhere cast their hopes and dreams, as they bloom and prosper.