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Image by Stephen Ironside


Slipcast porcelain keys, mason stains, wire, metal grids

Permanently Installed in the Fayetteville Public Library, 2021

When I was growing up, there was a small plaque with an old key on the wall of my grandmother’s house in Flushing, New York. That key was the only thing left of my grandfather’s house after the entire Armenian quarter of his hometown in Turkey was burned down. He fled for his life that day, along with most of the Armenians in the country. He was 18 years old. After the fire, a friend went back to where his house had been, found that key in the ashes, and sent it to my grandfather’s family.


I built a larger version of the key to my grandfather’s house out of clay, then cast it in plaster as a model. This was the first key I made for this piece. “Voyage of Lost Keys” is a way to imagine a mass migration — a way to think about people who have lost their homes and their place in the world as still being somehow connected to each other.


For my father, John Mesrob Papazian, and my grandparents Mary and Berj Papazian. And for my beloved aunt Rosemary Basler.

Images of Voyage of Lost Keys by Stephen Ironside

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