Interpret fortunes at the bottom of a cup

After watching the video, people switch to viewing. On the right wall are 300 cups painted by Grigorian, and on the left are the images of patterns she took from her personal cups. Grigorian explains how when people look at the photos of the cups, they’re basically looking at selfies of her.

“Now you can trace a path to my life story that no one else can see,” Grigorian said.

The question of who can read mugs is another often-debated topic. For Grigorian, anyone can tell a story. It’s not just about reading individual images, but connecting those images to a story about the person’s life. Grigorian cited his good friend Vahe Berberian, a comedian and author, as an example of someone who creates a narrative based on scattered patterns.

The anticipation of waiting for the reader to interpret a cup can be nerve-wracking for the coffee drinker, but it’s worth it. Grigorian recounts how when his family came together and the reading of the cup took place, it took the form of a group therapy session and provided catharsis.

“I still see their faces like the women, they were just looking at the reader, focusing on them and concentrating on the stories – it was almost therapeutic,” Grigorian said. “There’s a level of anxiety that would drop once their cup was read.”

Helena Grigorian (photo by Brandon Balayan)

This isn’t the first time Grigorian has focused on coffee mugs as art. In 2017, she presented a project to the She Loves Collective, a group of female artists who believe in social change through art. Helena’s project was a hanging coffee table with coffee cups attached to the bottom. Grigorian explained that it was meant to make the viewer feel like they were walking under their grandmother’s table.

Fast forward today, and Grigorian is continuing his craft and said it’s a work in progress. She hopes to take the exhibit to other places where she can turn it into an interactive piece – where people can be enveloped in the images, videos and sounds of cupography.

“My Life From the Grounds Up,” at Glendale, Arts and Culture, opened May 31 and will end July 23.

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