Assyrian artist finds kinship in Taos
Outside the Box > > Sarkis Gorial
By Carolyn Gonzales
|Undergraduate Sarkis Gorial expresses social concerns on canvas.. Photo by Carolyn Gonzales.
Taos was more than a place to live to artist Sarkis Gorial; it was a destination. Born in Iran as an Assyrian, he traveled to India, Africa, Greece, Italy, Holland and Germany before arriving in California. Gorial met many people, held different jobs and picked up four western languages, but something was still lacking.
Gorial left San Francisco in January 1999 and found his heart in Taos. He also found kinship, something missing in places he previously lived, except for his homeland.
“Taos was my last frontier in the United States. If it hadn’t worked out here I was prepared to leave the country,” he said, pointing to India or Central America as possible destinations.
Earning an associate degree in southwestern studies from UNM Extended University-Taos, the campus “put me into the art world,” he said. “The people in the Southwest are artistic – the Pueblos, Hispanos and Anglos,” he said.
Gorial has developed a warm relationship with all peoples in the area. The thoughts, feelings and emotions inspired by Taoseños are reflected in his meaningful, moving art.
In his piece “Kinship,” Gorial interrelates forms and shapes. “They represent what human beings are supposed to be, caring and sharing. Other elements include the church and guitar. The owl represents the native belief system. The happy face, well, it lit me up when I came to Taos,” he said.
His painting “Once upon a time” depicts a buffalo and expresses his daily connection with Taos Pueblo. Another piece, “Poor Taxpayer,” represents how hard life is on the poor working class “in the body of giant corporate America,” he said.
Gorial recently participated in the Undergraduate Research Symposium held at UNM’s main campus in Albuquerque. The only entrant from UNM Extended University- Taos, he received a scholarship.
“The art department here encouraged me, especially Mr. Ed Hefferman and Mr. Gary [Cook],” he said. “I’m not a public person, but they told me to show my work and take chances. They told me my work speaks for itself,” he said.
“Sarkis represents a place students reach when composition, idea and technique come together. Poetry results from it,” Cook shared.
UNM Extended U-Taos offers a rare opportunity to artists. “We have students from the entire range, from high school students to professionals. Approximately half of the students in some classes are established artists. Sarkis and others can rub shoulders with accomplished artists,” he said.
Cook was pleased Gorial decided to participate in the symposium. “Sarkis is a brave individual. He is sincere and honest in his presentation of himself. Because his work was ready to go, he really needed no preparation,” Cook said.
Cook said that the symposium represented what education is all about. “It brought out the discourse that surrounds research and activity,” he said.
Gorial has five art pieces in process and a plan to continue toward a bachelor of university studies (BUS) with a concentration in art studio. He has come a long way from Seperghan, his Assyrian village in Northwest Iran, but his sights are set even farther.