Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, living mostly in the Middle East and Europe before coming to the United States to study art at Syracuse University, earning her BFA from the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
Helen currently lives in Washington, DC, and works fulltime as an artist. She paints primarily in gouache and ink on board and canvas. More recently, she has worked with wood, shoes and cloth and mixed media installations.
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. Helen 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. Her paintings have been gifted to heads of state by President Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
I feel that my background in the Middle East allows me to approach the experiences I have in America, in a unique way, remaining an observer of both the Arab and American cultures. I believe that the arts are one of the most important tools we have to help shape and foster dialogue and positive ideas between the Middle East and the United States.
I hope through my work, to encourage dialogue and bring understanding and acceptance between the people of the Arab world and the United States, especially since 9/11, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the more recent revolutions and crises across the Arab world.
We met with Helen to learn more about her practice, read the interview on our blog here