The Tazian Family — Vatche Tazian, Kegham Tazian, Vahe Tazian and Taline Linovitz — attend the 28th annual Birmingham Bloomfield Cultural Arts Awards.

The Tazian Family — Vatche Tazian, Kegham Tazian, Vahe Tazian and Taline Linovitz — attend the 28th annual Birmingham Bloomfield Cultural Arts Awards.

Photo by Laurie Tennent

Special Lifetime Achievement Award goes to artist Kegham Tazian

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published October 24, 2023

 Kegham Tazian stands with his installation, “Pyramid Earth,” in Linden Park.

Kegham Tazian stands with his installation, “Pyramid Earth,” in Linden Park.

Photo provided by Vahe Tazian


BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD — The first pieces of formal art that Kegham Tazian encountered were in Italy when he was 22 years old.

Tazian was born in Turkey to Armenian parents in 1938. His family soon relocated to a refugee settlement in Lebanon. During this time, Tazian did not have access to any art in his home or neighboring community.

When he was 22, he boarded a boat to meet up with his brother in Fort Wayne. During this journey, the boat unexpectedly stopped in Rome. As he was wandering by himself in the streets of Rome, he was finally exposed to the work of some of the most famous artists in the world.

“When I saw that Sistine Chapel, I said, ‘I am blessed now,’” Tazian said.

At the time, he did not know the significance of the Sistine Chapel until he was standing within its walls. It was during this experience that he decided that he wanted to be an artist.

He added that he was fortunate enough to have a teacher growing up who was able to plant the seeds of art in him.

“I think it a little bit of a miracle from my background,” Tazian said.

Tazian recently received the Special Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cultural Council of Birmingham Bloomfield.

When he was growing up, Tazian said, there was only one pencil in his house that was passed between his older brothers to do assignments.

Once he got to Fort Wayne, Tazian enrolled at the Fort Wayne Institute of Art, where he received a bachelor’s  degree in art. He went on to earn a master’s in education from St. Francis College and a master’s in fine art and sculpture from Wayne State University. He worked as a professor of fine art at Oakland Community College for 47 years.

Since beginning his career as a professional artist, he has earned several awards among his many accomplishments, including in the University of Michigan Art Show, the Michigan State Fair Art Competition and the Birmingham Community Center Annual Show. He was also named the Farmington Area Arts Commission artist-in-residence in 1995.

Two years ago, his piece, “Pyramid Earth,” was installed in Linden Park. His work can also be found in various municipalities, churches and Wayne State University. It has been in numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.

Tazian is known for both painting and sculpting, but he said sculpting is what speaks to him most. He is currently working on a walnut sculpture.

Limestone is one of Tazian’s favorite materials to work with. He also is known to work with bronze, wood and found objects, among other materials.

When Tazian paints landscapes, he explained, he does not go on-site to paint. He uses his imagination to invent a scene.

“I prefer a little bit more freedom of what I am putting in it,” Tazian said.

“Invented Landscape” is a mixed-media piece that includes watercolor and collage. In it, he creates a contrast within the landscape between the rocks and rolling hills.

Within many of his paintings there is a window motif. For example, his acrylic and collage piece “The Window” depicts a window that is archeological rubble that looks into a scene of paradise. “Ancient Landscape” is an acrylic piece painted on an etched styrofoam board that is decades old and was recovered from under a piece of concrete. His pieces are not only diverse in medium, but they also range in subject matter. Some of his work is referred to as “survivor art,” which is a kind of art that depicts hope in humanity coming out of despair.

The Cultural Council of Birmingham Bloomfield does not give out Special Lifetime Achievement Awards every year. They give the Birmingham Bloomfield Cultural Arts Award every year, but some years the jury feels the need to honor another individual for their lifetime of achievements.

“It’s only when the jurors really firmly believe that there are two honorees and one is a lifetime,” said Marcy Heller Fisher, the co-chair of the 2023 Birmingham Bloomfield Cultural Arts Awards.

She said everyone was impressed by his years of work for the local, national and Armenian communities.

Tazian was honored at the 28th annual Birmingham Bloomfield Cultural Arts Awards at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center Oct. 13. For more information, visit