By Adriana Troka, Staff Writer
On January 21st 2015, Helen Zughaib, a Lebanese artist, visited the University of Michigan, Dearborn, to present and discuss her art on “Stories my father told me”. Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon and lived in the Middle East, and Europe before coming to America. She received her BFA from Syracuce University, College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Zughaib’s work is primarily in gouache, an opaque watercolor, and ink on board. Her choice of colors are vivid and lively, with choices like reds and oranges and many different shades of blue and greens. Helen’s style is unique, and tells the stories that were passed down from her father to her. Helen uses symmetric lines, some circles and uses a very colorful pallet.
Zughaib’s father was born in Syria, and is now 87 years old. Helen’s grandparents were first cousins arranged to be married, even thought they were not happy to do so, Helen explained. Furthermore, Helen’s aunt had to stay back in her country because she was too old to come to America with the rest of her family. Helen’s paintings explain this tragic story and more like it.
Zughaib’s art work paints the hardships that her family had gone through before coming to America. Many can relate to the stories behind the paintings as many people go through similar hardships in their country. Helen’s father was not happy about her decision to share their family’s secret but he soon climbed on board and shared more stories with his daughter that lead her to share them with the rest of the world.
Zughaib’s art work is included in many private and public collections, including the White House, Word Bank, Library of Congress, US Consulate General, Vancouver, Canada, American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and the Arab American National Museum in Detroit, Michigan. The exhibition is available at the Arab American National Museum through April 19.