Erin Piñon in Armenia

NEW YORK — Erin Piñon, a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University in the Department of Art & Archaeology, has been awarded the first AGBU Helen C. Evans Scholarship, which was launched in early 2020 by Ani and Mark Gabrellian to honor the curator and driving force behind the Armenia! exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Their significant gift established an endowment that is being supported by other generous community members who also recognize the importance of encouraging exceptional graduate students from around the world pursuing studies in Armenian art, art history, architecture, or early Christianity. The scholarship, which is open to students of all backgrounds, is awarded by AGBU, with Dr. Evans assisting in the review process.

Helen C. Evans

As described in her application, Ms. Piñon developed a passion for Armenian art as an undergraduate student at Tufts University, where she studied under Dr. Christina Maranci. By her senior year, Dr. Maranci wrote, she was “enchanted” by Armenian and Byzantine art, and all things related to Armenia and Armenians.

After graduating from Tufts, Ms. Piñon completed her Master’s in Art History at Southern Methodist University. The recipient of a number of awards, including a Fulbright U.S. Research Grant to Armenia, Ms. Piñon, who is not Armenian herself, has learned Western and Eastern Armenian to communicate both in Armenia and across the diaspora, skills critical to her studies. She has also served as a visiting lecturer in Armenian art and architecture at the American University of Armenia in Yerevan.

Ms. Piñon is currently completing her dissertation titled The Illuminated Haysmawurk’: Ottoman-Armenian Painting and Confessionalism in the Age of Print. Examples of the manuscripts required to complete her work are currently safeguarded within two main repositories: the Armenian Patriarchate in Istanbul, and the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) in Yerevan. This scholarship will allow her to conduct fieldwork essential to completing her dissertation.

In describing Dr. Evans’ profound impact on the fields of Armenian and Byzantine art history, Ms. Piñon, who first met Dr. Evans in Yerevan, said, “Her pioneering work on Cilician scriptoria and manuscript illustration defined new areas of Armenian art history, revealing that the art of medieval Armenia did not develop in isolation. I am deeply honored and incredibly grateful to be able to continue my research with a grant named after such a towering figure in this field whose scholarship and mentorship have shaped me profoundly.”

Ani and Mark Gabrellian

“I am excited by the selection of Erin Piñon as the first Helen C. Evans scholar. She is well along on her Ph.D. on modern Armenian manuscript illuminations that should help link the past and present in Armenian studies. Erin not only intensely identifies with past Armenian art and culture but also is actively involved with contemporary Armenian issues across the globe, said Dr. Evans. “I am also so appreciative for this scholarship, which not only encourages study in the field that’s been so central to my career but also ensures recognition of the importance of Armenian art and culture over the next generations.”

Both Dr. Evans and Ms. Piñon noted her involvement with the Armenia! exhibition, with Dr. Evans pointing to “…an impressive article by Erin to be included in the exhibition’s symposium volume.” Ms. Piñon likewise reflected on Armenia! in her application, writing that Dr. Evans “…welcomed me to the diverse team of historians and art historians who worked on the Armenia! exhibition, which framed my doctoral coursework and heralded a new moment in Armenian art history.”

The Gabrellians joined in congratulating Ms. Piñon as the inaugural scholarship recipient, stating, “We were inspired to launch the AGBU Helen C. Evans Scholarship both to honor and recognize Dr. Evans’ outstanding achievements, and to also encourage others to continue exploring this culturally and historically valuable field. Erin clearly represents the next generation of scholars that we’re so pleased this scholarship recognizes.” They added, “Supporting top tier research, teaching, publication and curation on these topics is even more critical now as so many monuments, historic sites and relics are at risk for destruction.”

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