UWGB mourns loss of outreach art instructor

The UW-Green Bay community is mourning the loss of Arda Ishkhanian, painting instructor for UWGB’s Outreach and Summer Art Studio camps program. Ishkhanian died in a single-car accident Feb. 7 while traveling to Wadi Hitan, a paleontological site near Fayoum City, Egypt.

Ishkhanian was born in Cairo, Egypt, and is survived by her husband, UWGB Art Curator Stephen Perkins, daughter Nina Perkins and brother Arlen Ishkhanian, according to her obituary published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette Feb. 26.

Those who worked with or knew Ishkhanian were impressed by her love of teaching the arts, particularly to children.

David Coury, UWGB professor of humanistic studies and friend of Ishkhanian, remembers the passion she had for creating and teaching art.

“Arda was well known throughout Green Bay as an advocate and teacher of art,” Coury said. “She was so warm and funny —just a wonderful person.”

Of Armenian descent, Ishkhanian was born in Egypt and attended high school in Beirut before immigrating to America in 1979. Ishkhanian graduated from California College of Arts with a degree in film and video in 1985. She then went on to study interactive multimedia at San Francisco State University and later received a bachelor’s degree in art education from the University of Iowa in 1994, according to her online biography.

Ishkhanian taught at Green Bay Public School and De Pere Public School throughout the previous 10 years. More recently, she taught at Wisconsin International School in De Pere, but she hasn’t always taught in Wisconsin.

“She lived and worked in San Francisco before teaching in this area,” Coury said. “She was incredibly curious, like all good artists are, and she traveled a lot.”

Ishkhanian had traveled to a number of countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Germany, France, England, Scotland, New Zealand, Jamaica, Belize, Guatemala, among many others.

Travel played a large role in her teaching philosophy. Ishkhanian’s artwork has been displayed in New York City, Amsterdam, Cairo, Chicago, Iowa City, San Francisco and Green Bay. She was also fluent in four languages: Armenian, Arabic, English and French, according to her online biography.

Ishkhanian’s artwork was most recently exhibited at the Neville Public museum. Ishkhanian was also co-curator of the WC Gallery in De Pere, according to her obituary published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette Feb. 26.

A temporary account has been created by friends of Stephen Perkins at the UW Credit Union, located in the University Union, for those who would like to assist in efforts to mitigate travel expenses or other costs.

“This was so sudden, and there were a lot of expenses associated with traveling to Egypt to take care of the arrangements,” Coury said. “We wanted any friends or colleagues who want to assist her family to have the opportunity to do so. Really anyone in the UWGB community is welcome to help ease their financial burden during this difficult time.”