Vale Joanna Kambourian [22 March 1976 – 12 April 2023] Artist, Activist, Educator, Artist-Run Community Advocate
Vale Joanna Kambourian [March1976- April 2023], my dear artist friend and colleague died suddenly in a fall, unable to be revived on April 12 2023. Jo was one of those rare, kind and selfless community-based change agents who transformed people’s lives. Jo has deeply touched the hearts and souls of so many. Joanna’s infectious passion, care and generosity endures inspiring us all, both in the present, and in the future…my love and hugs to Jo’s family, friends and colleagues xxx Paul Andrew
Joanna made a vital contribution to artist-run communities and Armenian diaspora communities during the past fifteen years. I first met Joanna at Lismore Art Space in Summer 2013, an artist run initiative, community hub, art space, studio and gallery founded in 2010. We spent that subtropical afternoon drinking bottomless cups of strong coffee and sweet spicy biscuits Jo had baked, talking non-stop about family, and a shared love for making creative archival assemblages.
At the time Jo was focused on making a series of vibrant screen prints employing remix techniques – recasting the old with the new and emergent- artworks which drew from her extensive Armenia family archives reimagined and over layered with culturally-specific motifs, weaving patterns and decorative techniques.
Joanna’s interest in advocating for Armenian diaspora continued up until the day of her accidental death in April 2023. In response to Armenia’s recent, current and unfolding situation, one pithy example which springs to mind was a fabulous collaboration by the feted Northern NSW artist Joanna Kambourian along with Brisbane-based Plexus Gallery. An important project initiated for the Art For Armenia online exhibition. Organised during the unrelenting Covid-19 lock downs in SEQ in 2020 this event featured both Australian and international artists who generously donated their artwork in support for the people of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh) region. A region severely impacted by ongoing military oppression by Azerbaijan, and the Turkish Army. Artsakh is known to many as a small independent region, connected to Armenia, bordering Azerbaijan and Iran where Armenians – as one of the oldest living cultures – have been indigenous to this area since the 5th Century BC.
Thank you Joanna for so much cultural and political inspiration and for so many foundational conversations and experiences as we worked intensively together on so many projects including the ARI Remix + EXTRA Zine expanded internet art work over the past ten years. Joanna you are long remembered, loved and deeply cherished! xxx Paul Andrew.
Thank you dear readers. Please add any of your own stories and memories about artist Joanna Kambourian in the comments thread below. I will go through the personal archives and locate some related ephemera and make a memory post to help memorialize and celebrate Joanna in coming months…
Art for Armenia
An online exhibition to raise funds to help the families of soldiers whose lives were lost defending Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)
17 October – 15 November 2020
Many thanks to these generous artists – Click to see their work
Kareen Adam – Aureole – Sona Babajanyan – Nicole Barakat – Renata Buziak – Wayne Churcher – Helle Cook – Miranda Costa – Beki Davies – Suzon Fuks – Eugene Gilfedder – Rona Green – Anna Kalachyan – Joanna Kambourian – Jenny Kitchener – Lisa Kurtz – Dorota Lagida-Ostling – Chris Macpherson – Eryn Mark – Meredith Macleod – Thomas More – Carol Schwarzman – Billy Shannon – Belinda Sinclair – Christine Spedding
Photo Above: Artist Joanna Kambourian
Free the Arts Lismore Art Space 2015 | Photography by Legion Creative