Two for the Show
Artists Zughaib and Davis Show Eclectic Exhibits at Visions by Dina Guirguis
The International Visions Gallery is showing not one fascinating exhibit this month, but two exhibits by two eclectic artists with very different themes, painting styles and artistic experiences.
One of the exhibits is called "Tribute" by artist Helen Zughaib, whose inventive paintings bring together both a strong Middle Eastern flair as well as an American sensibility. The paintings include images of American symbols, such as the Lincoln Memorial, but convey a Middle Eastern dimension because of the effective way Zughaib uses color, patterns and styles from the region.
Another painting, titled "Prayer Rug for America," is a creative expression of unity, especially after the events of Sept. 11. The prayer rug, an important Muslim symbol, is adorned in Middle Eastern patterns but surrounded with the American flag and painted fittingly in red, white and blue.
"These paintings just happened in spite of myself," Zughaib said. "The sights and sound of the Arab world are in me."
Zughaib is able to bring this cross-cultural and somewhat universal sense to her art largely because of her background. As an Arab-American she brings to her work a mix of tradition, culture and a way of life. Zughaib was born in Beirut and spent most of her childhood there until she and her family moved to the United States.
"It was very painful leaving. It was during an evacuation, and it was very emotional," Zughaib said.
But the emotions do more than strengthen her work. Zughaib continues to feel a strong attachment to her birthplace and former home. She still has many relatives in Lebanon and has always felt somewhat divided. Nonetheless, she continued her studies in the United States and graduated from Syracuse University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts in 1981.
"This collection represents tribute in every sense of the word. It is spiritual in that it represents a new point in my life where things are happier, and it’s a tribute to both sides of myself that I am equally proud of."
Nearly 20 of the gouache-and-ink paintings will be displayed in the exhibit.
In addition to "Tribute," the gallery will also be exhibiting a collection titled "Human Spirit" by artist and gallery director and owner Tim Davis.
The "Human Spirit" paintings are a portrayal of the changing conditions of the human spirit and of the interactions involved in every relationship. Bright colors and haunting silhouettes complete Davis’s potent themes.
"The people portrayed are not actual individuals but the spirits of people and reflect experiences that have happened to me along my life," Davis said.
The 14 acrylic paintings took Davis about a year and a half to complete. The paintings work together as a series, and audiences can witness the changes over time from the first to the last painting. This is the first time they will be displayed to the public.
"Tribute" and "Human Spirit" run through May 25 at the International Visions Gallery, 2629 Connecticut Ave., NW, Wed. to Thu., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Fri. to Sat., 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, please call (202) 234-5112.
Dina Guirguis is an editorial intern for The Washington Diplomat
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