Mary Badalian
Mary Badalian is an artist living in Yerevan, Armenia. An integral part of her practice has always been repetition, precise, repetitive actions that serve as her safe space and therapy. Whether spending hours on meticulous embroidery or creating drawings of similar yet different things, repetition has been a constant in her artistic journey. Originating as a therapeutic outlet, Mary's early work was driven by instinct and emotion, predominantly expressed through embroidered canvases. However, through her education, she learned to infuse more intention into her repetitive actions.
«Eat Your Heart Out» is the first instalment of the three-part project series centered around shame. It is a multi-dimensional project that delves into the visceral and consuming nature of shame and its gendered nature. Utilising the metaphor of parasites, the project comprises a series of watercolor paintings that visually depict the insidious impact of shame on the human psyche. The project unfolds as a visual narrative, capturing the symbiotic relationship between shame and parasitic entities, both literal and metaphorical.
Pushing the boundaries of embroidery, a traditionally feminine craft now breaking free from confinements, Mary delved into the complex tapestry of mental health—a topic still shrouded in taboo within her cultural context. Embroidery, once marginalized, now emerges as an unorthodox form, challenging preconceptions. She then adopted a more interdisciplinary approach, venturing into watercolors, a medium previously foreign to her.

Beyond the personal, Mary's art now grapples with the intricate layers of shame, specifically examining its gendered nature within her cultural milieu. Feminism, a subconscious undercurrent, persists in shaping her narrative. Initiating her exploration of shame from a deeply personal perspective, she uncovered its pervasive influence on her life and its intrinsic connection to her national identity.

Recognizing the complexity of this emotion, Mary chose to dissect it into three sections, with two of these materializing into separate projects. The essence of these projects lies in unveiling the concealed aspects of shame and trauma, prompting a crucial dialogue about the intersections of personal and collective identities, the enduring impact of historical trauma, and the urgent need to break free from the oppressive grip of shame.
"Inspired by a profound exploration of personal shame, I confront and expose my vulnerabilities by compiling a list of experiences and societal judgments that evoke this powerful emotion. This emotional inventory becomes the foundation for a series of small watercolor drawings that translate the intangible weight of shame into tangible visual forms. More than 70 drawings, akin to entries in a young biologist's diary, bear handwritten labels corresponding to the list in Latin. The title also serves as a nod to my previous series, «Heart of Glass,» symbolizing a radical change in medium and a continued evolution in my artistic journey."