The female master of the Armenian blue-and-white porcelain
A beloved and prolific Armenian ceramic painter, Marie Balian (1925-2017) studied at the Beaux Arts of Lyon, where her family had settled. Her family hailed from Kütahya (Kutahya), which is historically known for its Armenian ceramic industry, and were forced to flee due to the Armenian Genocide.
In 1954, Balian married into the Balians, a family of Armenian potters, in Bethlehem, Palestine. In 1955, Setrag and Marie moved to Jordan where they had three children. For almost 10 years, due to the agreement between the partners Neshan and Mgrditch, Marie could not introduce her talent to the ceramic studio.
In 1964, as the partners separated, Marie was finally able to pour her artistic knowledge and talent into the Balian studio. As she slowly started moving away from the traditional static designs to the more free-form art, the repetitive Iznik patterns started to take life with the introduction of her dancing animals and moving trees.
Marie’s artistic revolution combined with Setrag’s technical expertise and master potter skills, paved the way for the international art scene to take notice of the Balian studio. This in turn translated into increased media coverage, local and international custom ceramic projects and worldwide museum exhibitions.
The 1992 “Views of Paradise” at the Smithsonian Institution, which included more than 20 wall-size panels, would crown the achievements of the Balian family. Further exhibitions followed at the ALMA Museum in Boston, the Eretz Israel Museum in Israel and Alicante, Spain.