Atra Givarkes is an Assyrian artist based in California. What makes her style of art unique is that she tends to incorporate calligraphy into her work. Calligraphy is an ancient style of art found in both the Eastern and Western world, but especially common in the Middle East. It emphasizes the beauty found in different alphabets. Since the Assyrian (Syriac) alphabet is less-known to the world, Givarkes’ work is important in that it helps bring more public awareness to our beautiful letters.
Atra Givarkes was born in the city of Urmia in Iran, but came with her family to the United States in 2007. Ever since she was young, she enjoyed painting. However, it was not until her teenage years that she decided to pursue art professionally.
When Givarkes arrived in the United States, she began to take professional art classes at Modesto Junior College, and later at the University of California in San Diego. As she experimented with different forms of art, she found herself drawn toward calligraphy. She felt especially connected to it because of its roots in the Middle East, and also because she sees it as an extension of her Assyrian identity. She also drew inspiration from her uncle, Walodia Lazar, another artist who uses Assyrian calligraphy.
Givarkes has participated in the Assyrian Cultural Foundation’s Fine Arts Competitions several times, and has won both recognition and prizes for her submissions. She also recently participated in a 2019 Assyrian art exhibit in San Jose, California called “Diaspora in Bloom.” You can view the exhibit virtually here. Atra Givarkes appreciates all of the support that she has received from the Assyrian community so far, and looks forward to creating more art in the future.