Arab American Memoir: “Stories My Father Told Me”
Memories of a Childhood in Syria and Lebanon By Elia Zughaib, Illustrated by Helen Zughaib
In a world driven by power, money, and the pursuit of personal success, Helen and her father Elia have given us a glimpse of an intact society stretched to the limit, yet surviving with all the strands of its fabric securely in place. Their deceptively simple work carries a profound message for our time.
24 full color plates of original artwork by the established Arab American artist Helen Zughaib accompany her father Elia Zughaib’s family stories of his childhood in Syria and Lebanon in the 1930s.
Helen’s art in review: “Like dreaming in color.” “Her perfectly patterned visual images create a path of radiance.” “Her images magically carry us into distant places of beauty, joy, devotion, and love.”
In counterpoint to Helen’s artwork, Elia Zughaib’s stories portray with rich cultural detail the traditions and lifestyle of a previous era. Evocative, full of wisdom and humor, they offer fascinating glimpses into Syrian and Lebanese Christian traditions, folk culture, and daily life.
Elia’s text in review: “Stories of a people who survive political turmoil and uncertain times with humor, grace, and empathy—all rooted in unconditional love.” “Elia and Helen Zughaib have created a cure for xenophobia.”
About the Author Elia Zughaib was born in 1927 in Damascus and grew up in Syria and Lebanon in the 1930s before coming to America in 1946 to study at Syracuse University. He received his PhD in Political Science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He joined the United States Foreign Service in 1959 and served in Lebanon, Iraq, Kuwait, and France until his retirement in 1978. He and his wife, Georgia, live in Alexandria, Virginia.
About the Illustrator Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1959. She lived in the Middle East and Europe before coming to America in 1978 to study at Syracuse University. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of Visual and Performing Arts. She works primarily in gouache and ink on board and canvas.
Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums in the United States, Europe and Lebanon. Her paintings are included in many private and public collections, including the White House, World Bank, Library of Congress, US Consulate General, Vancouver, Canada, American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, the Arab American National Museum in, Michigan, and the DC Art Bank collection.
She recently was awarded a grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and currently included in the new Washingtonia Collection, in Washington, DC. She was also invited as artist in residence at George Mason University, Virginia, and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC. Her paintings have been included in several Art in Embassy exhibitions abroad, including Brunei, Nicaragua, Mauritius, Iraq, Belgium and Lebanon.
In 2008, Helen was invited as US Cultural Envoy through the US Department of State, to Palestine, where she led a month- long workshop with Palestinian women artists from the West Bank. This exhibit titled “Women’s Art, Women’s Vision,” presented an opportunity for both American and Palestinian women to share their stories and culture celebrating International Women’s History Month.
In 2009, she was invited to Switzerland and France, under the US Department of State’s Speaker and Specialist Program, sharing her work with universities and schools. In October 2016, she traveled to Saudi Arabia as US Cultural Envoy, speaking to young Saudi women artists and exhibiting her work at the Quincy House in Riyadh.
Helen’s paintings have been gifted to heads of state by President Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
25 color images + author photos
9.75 x 8.25 inches landscape (hardcover overall size)
.625 in thick (with hardcover binding)
.75 lbs (weight)
|US List Price
Official Pub Date
January 14, 2020
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