Clerics offer a prayer during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Pasadena Armenian Genocide Memorial monument at Memorial Park in Pasadena on Sunday. The memorial is scheduled to be completed on April 18, just ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24. Staff photo by Brian Day
PASADENA >> Pasadena’s Armenian Genocide Memorial took a major step on the road from concept to reality Sunday when officials gathered for a ground-breaking ceremony at the construction site at Memorial Park.
Designer and recent Art Center College of Design graduate Catherine Menard, Pasadena Armenian Genocide Committee board members, city officials, and representatives from area Armenian churches and schools took part in the ceremony.
“It’s been such a journey,” Menard said, adding that she was excited to see her design beginning to take shape. Menard unveiled her design in April 2013 after it was selected by the memorial committee over 16 other entries. Menard, who was a student at Art Center College of Design at the time, has since graduated with a degree in Environment Design.
The completed monument, which will take the form of a 16-foot-tall tripod surrounded by a 26-foot wide ring of stonework with water drops dripping into a basin to represent each of the 1.5 million lives cut short by the Ottoman Turks in the Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923, Menard explained. The droplets, which will be illuminated, will fall every 21 seconds, so that 1.5 million drops will fall annually.
The tripod represents similarly-shaped structures which Armenian leaders were hanged from during the Armenian Genocide, Menard said.
Surrounding the tripod and stonework will be 12 pomegranate trees, representing each of the 12 “lost provinces” of Armenia.
Menard said she was grateful to all the people who have donated their time and efforts to bring the project this far.
“We have a team that’s unified, with so many people giving their time and so much love,” she said. “That’s what this project is about: love, forgiveness, truth.”
A dedication ceremony is planned at 3 p.m. April 18, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on April 24, Pasadena Armenian Genocide Committee Board Member Levon Filian said.
The project was unanimously approved by the Pasadena City Council in September of 2013.
Clerics, including Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America, prayed over the sight before officials symbolically shoveled dirt to mark the beginning of the monument’s construction.
“It’s phenomenal to see this,” said Art Center College of Design Professor James Meraz, who oversaw Menard’s project while she was a student at the school. “I’m so proud of her.”
PAGMC board members and former state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino of La Cañada Flintridge, who joined in the ceremony along with Pasadena city officials and other dignitaries, said he was pleased with the progress.
“The community deserves an outstanding memorial,” he said. “This is a special day.”