Stories My Father Told Me

book cover with and man and donkey
Stories My Father Told Me (2019) Helen Zughaib
Stories My Father Told Me (back cover, 2019) Helen Zughaib

Event Info

Join us for an evening with artist Helen Zughaib, who is featured in the exhibition Poetry is Not a Luxury. She will be reading her new book, Stories My Father Told Me, followed by a discussion moderated by curator Maymanah Farhat.

The stories in this book recount events from Elia Zughaib’s Syrian and Lebanese childhood in the 1930s and early 1940s, in what are now the Lebanese villages of Marjayoun, Zahle, and Kfeir. After sharing his stories in family settings over the years, Elia finally agreed to set them down in written form at the urging of his daughter, the artist Helen Zughaib, who contributed the title to this volume. The accompanying art work was created by Helen. The result is a collaboration of story and image by father and daughter, celebrating the richness of Syrian and Lebanese life and culture in a bygone era.


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 and works in Washington, DC, as an artist. She paints primarily in gouache and ink on board and canvas. More recently, she has worked with wood, shoes, and cloth in 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, and the Arab American National Museum in Detroit, Michigan. Her paintings are included in the DC Art Bank Collection and she has received the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship award in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and 2018. Her paintings have also been in Art in Embassy State Department exhibitions abroad, including Brunei, Nicaragua, Mauritius, Iraq, Belgium, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Her paintings have been gifted to heads of state by President Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
“As an Arab American, 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, Afghanistan, and the more recent revolutions and crises in the Arab world, resulting from the “Arab Spring” that began in late 2010, leading to the civil war in Syria and the massive displacement of people seeking refuge in Europe, the Middle East and America.”

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