Feast of Ashes is the life story of Armenian ceramicist David Ohannessian, whose work changed the face of Jerusalem—and a granddaughter's search for his legacy.
Along the cobbled streets and golden walls of Jerusalem, brilliantly glazed tiles catch the eye. These colourful wares—known as Armenian ceramics—are iconic features of the Holy City. Silently, these works of ceramic art—art that graces homes and museums around the world—also represent a riveting story of resilience and survival. In the final years of the Ottoman Empire, as hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forcibly marched to their deaths, one man carried the secrets of this age-old art with him into exile toward Syria.
In 1919 David Ohannessian founded the art of Armenian pottery in Jerusalem, where his work and that of his followers is now celebrated as a local treasure. Born in an isolated Anatolian mountain village, Ohannessian mastered a centuries-old art form in Kütahya, witnessed the rise of violent nationalism in the waning years of the Ottoman Empire, endured arrest and deportation in the Armenian Genocide, founded a new ceramics tradition in Jerusalem under the British Mandate, and spent his final years, uprooted, in Cairo and Beirut. Feast of Ashes weaves together family narratives with newly unearthed archival findings into a detailed account of the transfer of an Anatolian art to Jerusalem and the survival of one family.
Sato Moughalian is an award-winning flutist in New York City and Artistic Director of Perspectives Ensemble, founded in 1993 to explore and contextualize works of composers and visual artists. Since 2007, Ms. Moughalian has also traveled to Turkey, England, Israel, Palestine, and France to uncover the traces of her grandfather's life and work, has published articles, and gives talks on the genesis of Jerusalem's Armenian ceramic art.