Armenian faces, Armenian national costumes, Armenian soldiers, Armenian churches and nature, Artsakh, Armenian family...these are the main themes of the works of a unique creature- a Columbian girl named Natalia, who is not Armenian, but her heart is definitely Armenian.
_Introduce yourself to our readers, please.
_My name is Natalia Labrada Zapata. I am 23 years old but all the people think I am younger, always said to me between 13-17 years. I think that how I live reflects my real age. I am Colombian but my heart belongs to you all.
I felt in love of Armenia when I was 7 years old, I found in an old book of my grandfather the Armenian flag. And something caught my attention. Also the similarity with my flag in a sort of way, that's was a big surprise for me. So I decided to learn all I could about Armenia: history, culture, music, etc. (most of Colombian people until today doesn't know that your country exists, even if in my country exits one city with the name of Armenia.) But I'm trying to change that, people who know me, friends, professors and others know that I love Armenia and Armenians. And I’ve made presentations about you in order to let people know you. By Internet I could read more and more about you, I listened the popular songs of Armenia, the sound of the Duduk that's gorgeous and there is not instrument and sound to compare with it, and for me the Duduk and mount Ararat represent the soul of Armenians.
There are even people and professors who tell me that in “another life” I lived in Armenia, as a way to understand me.
I began to draw the different monuments and landscapes of your country, writing poems about you since childhood. And I could tell you that today I know more about you all than my own country. I tried and I continue trying make my country recognize the Armenian genocide, I’ve been writing more than 5 times to the different presidents we already had in Colombia.
My biggest dream, I accomplished it last summer when I went to Armenia. I’ve never had Armenian friends until I opened Instagram and then meet them all in person in Armenia, it was a unique experience. I’ve never do such a thing before. Now I have Armenian friends all over the world and I just enjoyed talking and answer your comments.
People asked how I found your flag there exactly, I just do not know. I prefer believe that it was God, that it was something I needed to find. I know that God put this true love I have in my heart towards you for a reason, and I just want to make something good for Armenia and Armenians in a near future. I'm sure I can do it. I'm just a Colombian girl whose heart belongs to you, and will try my best for you.
_Drawing for you is a hobby or a future profession?
_I do not see drawing as a hobby or future profession exactly. For me drawing is one of my biggest passions since I was a little girl. I've never taken drawing or art lessons in my life, it is a natural thing for me. I could say I am a self-taught artist. I also paint, write and sculpt. With all this I just want to express my ideas and support you. Nowadays, the executive director- Artin Nazaryan- of one the Armenian Non-Governmental Organization (ONG) called Hyer United (that get donations of medical supplies and ship them to several regions throughout Artsakh) and located in Los Angeles, contacted me to ask me to use one of my drawings for donations, and I totally agree. Also AGBU invited me during this 24th april to make an exhibition of my drawings, but sadly I don’t live in LA, but the Director of Community Programs- Suzanna A. Sargsyan told me we will keep in touch because they want to meet me. And more people asking me about exhibitions or if they can use my drawings in their web pages, etc. And many Armenians from different countries (Armenians from Armenia and the ones from diaspora) write me all the time, to thank me for what I am doing. I will go to Armenia in this summer to share with my friends and people that wants to meet me and also to LA at the end of the summer to meet Armenian people and friends that want to meet me and me also want to meet them.
For me it is a passion, but a few weeks ago I started thinking about it. And now or in a near future I can donate or sell things (t-shirts, etc.) but not for my profit, if I earn something with that it is to contribute to develop different areas in Armenia. Also one of my plans is to create a foundation to help children to develop their artistic talents, and not only kids, help the villagers and more, I have so many ideas that I want to realize for you.
_What or who are your sources of inspiration?
_My inspiration are you all, Armenians, it is for you that I make all my drawings and write my poems. I am just waiting future to do what I have to do for you Armenia and Armenians. I am sure I can contribute with that.
_Have you ever been to Armenia?
_Yes I’ve been in Armenia. I went there for the first time last summer. I was there almost all my summer like I will do this summer too. I’ve never been as happy in my entire life as I was there. All what I usually drew, your people that means a lot to me, I could finally meet and enjoy in person. My first two weeks I did not believe I was really there. Touching the doors of your churches and monasteries, the khachkars, listening the majestic sound of the Duduk in person, admire from my window all days the Mount Ararat, all just unique. I just do not have words to describe my feelings when I was there, but my friends told me that what I felt I reflected in my face, always with a big smile and the words I shared to them. It was a dream that I did not want to wake up. So much warmth and hospitality from your people that made me feel at home.
Last summer I’ve visited so many places: Yerevan, Gyumri, Abovyan, Sevan, Spitakavor, Tsakhats Kar monastery, Stepanavan, Aragats Mountain, Vanadzor, Dsegh, Sardarapat, Garni-Geghard, Etchmiadzin, Smbataberd, Amberd and more. One day I would love to visit Western Armenia, hopefully a part of the Armenian architecture still remains at that moment. I just want to live in Armenia one day.
_Your opinion on Armenian youth and wishes to Armenians.
_My opinion to the Armenian youth and wishes are that no matter if you are Armenians from Armenia or Armenians from diaspora you need to be united, you need to be together and fight for your rights. No more corruption, no more inequalities (take Iceland of example in this) and Armenia and Armenians will rise again as it was done in the past. And also know that you are not alone, that even if I am not Armenian I’m always with you. May God bless and keep Armenia.