Anna Navasardian with colorful background

From the Arts to STEM: Anna Navasardian on the Evolving Role of Women

4 min read

YEREVAN, Armenia — Anna Navasardian is a young artist currently living and working in New York. Born in Yerevan, Armenia, in 1988, she moved to the United States at a young age and obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in 2010 from Carnegie Mellon University. Recently, she decided to partner with the American University of Armenia (AUA) to auction off one of her unique paintings to support the Yes, Armenian Women Can! campaign, empowering young women pursuing degrees in science and engineering. 

Anna emigrated with her family to San Francisco at the age of three and moved to New York two years later. Though she grew up in the United States, she always felt a strong connection to her homeland and her Armenian roots. She would return to Armenia every summer to visit family, including her maternal grandparents and great-aunts, who would later become the subjects of her painting being auctioned off, Garden Study

The photo inspiration behind the Garden Study painting - Navasardian's maternal grandmother and great-aunts

The photo inspiration behind Garden Study

Describing herself as a figure painter, Anna’s journey into art began as a child, drawing and doing arts and crafts. Her parents were art aficionados, and their home was adorned with the works of Armenian artists, who later influenced Anna’s artistic style. “Haroutiun Galents, Minas Avetisyan, Martiros Saryan. These are all major figures who greatly influenced my formative years. Growing up looking at their paintings has really informed my work, now aesthetically,” she says.  

She began to develop her craft in middle school and refined it further at LaGuardia High School, a high school in NYC that specializes in visual and performing arts. After high school, Anna was inspired to pursue an academic career in art, and enrolled in a highly conceptual four-year art program at Carnegie Mellon University, from which she graduated with a BFA degree. 

Garden Study by Anna Navasardian - 6 women sitting in a field

Garden Study by Anna Navasardian

After college, Anna moved back to New York and found representation with an art gallery in Chelsea. Her professional career began to flourish, and her artwork was showcased nationally and internationally. 

Anna describes being an artist as a lot of fun, but difficult, with many highs and lows. She comments on the shifts taking place in the art market and how artists are changing course and finding new approaches to represent themselves. “There’s a lot of new energy emerging with social media and artists getting their work out. The landscape is different for people who are just starting out — it’s more empowering,” she says. 

black and white photo of Anna Navasardian painting

Anna is currently working on a new project that follows the story of a group of Armenian women who became refugees following the Armenian Genocide. They made their way to France, where they were trained in elaborate craft making and became talented lacemakers. She notes that, for these women, the process may have been very therapeutic in dealing with their trauma. She ties her interest in women’s empowerment to the AUA Art Auction. Though she has participated in auctions before, this is her first auction benefiting an Armenian cause, for which she is very excited. 

Speaking about her artwork, Anna describes her paintings as expressionistic: “The kind of art I make is personal and a true expression of my life.” The Garden Study painting being auctioned off is a depiction of a photograph from a collection she inherited from her grandfather. Though a mechanic by trade, he also was an artist and a photographer.  Using minimal resources, he had transformed his bathroom into a dark room, where he would spend hours developing photos. After his death, the photos were passed on to Anna, who began to explore them. She created a whole series of paintings around them; this particular photo depicts her grandmother, great-aunts, and their friends photographed in a garden in Dilijan. “I found it so inspirational that he was making art with such limited resources. It really touched me, and I wanted to elaborate on his images,” she explains. 

black and white photo of Anna Navasardian painting, profile view

Anna is happy to support women’s education because it’s a cause she values tremendously. “I hold women’s education very close to my heart. I believe that it requires some extra consideration because there are so many societal pressures placed on women. I believe any undertaking in support of women’s education, and especially in Armenia, is the key to progress,” she says. 

As to AUA students exploring a career in science, technology, or engineering, Anna urges them to keep going: “If you can keep going through the hard times, it will pay off. ‘Failure’ is just exploration. The youth have already proven that they have the energy and vigor to bring about change. The more you educate yourself, the better you will be equipped to bring about progress for yourself and for the greater good. If you are lifted, then you can, in turn, lift other people,” Anna says.  

black and white photo of Anna Navasardian sitting and presenting her artwork

She continues to comment on the role of AUA in education and how impressed she was when visiting the campus in Yerevan and learning about the University’s affiliation with the UC system. “The talent in Armenia is unsurpassed, and it really is so untapped. The value that science and engineering bring through education can help create autonomous citizens who can then bring forth progress. This is especially true for women, who have typically faced major challenges, like starting a family as a working professional.” Anna also calls upon men to do more in support of women, adding that she hopes they can recognize the value of women in the home as well as in the workplace. 

When asked how she wishes to be remembered as an artist, Anna says, “I really value when someone connects with my art, when others can see themselves in it. That is a really special feeling to me.” 

To learn more about the AUA Art Auction featuring Anna Navasardian, visit