President Obama Presents FB Artist Helen Zughaib’s Painting to Iraq Prime Minister

FB Artist’s Work Gifted to Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Maliki

Midnight Prayers

Mid­night Prayers

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama gave Prime Min­is­ter Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq, a paint­ing by Arab Amer­i­can and DC area artist, Helen Zughaib, at the White House dur­ing his recent visit. As a gift between the two coun­tries, her paint­ing “Mid­night Prayers” sym­bol­izes the coun­tries’ rela­tions. Zughaib’s art work is cur­rently on dis­play at The Jerusalem Fund for Edu­ca­tion and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. as well as at Find­ing Beauty In A Bro­ken World: In the Spirit of Frida Kahlo exhi­bi­tion that I juried at the Joan Hisaoka Heal­ing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm in Wash­ing­ton, DC (1632 U St NW or 202–483-8600).

For Zughaib, this is a notable devel­op­ment in her artis­tic career, yet it is not with­out prece­dent. Two years ago, one of her paint­ings, “Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion,” was given to Pres­i­dent George W. Bush by then Lebanese Par­lia­men­tar­ian (and cur­rent Prime Min­is­ter) Saad Hariri as an offi­cial gift from Lebanon.

Zughaib, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon, said the piece Obama gave to Iraq is about the prospects for peace she sees in faith. Zughaib was inspired by the Mus­lim “call to prayer one hears in the Mid­dle East.”

She added, “The beauty of the call to prayer, com­bined with the rich detail of intri­cate Islamic designs in blues and greens, sym­bol­ize the beauty and lush­ness of the Arab world. As always, it is a paint­ing that reflects my hopes for peace and tran­quil­ity in that region.”

Zughaib helped curate the cur­rent exhibit at The Jerusalem Fund for Edu­ca­tion and Com­mu­nity Devel­op­ment. The exhibit is called “Gaza Con­ver­sa­tions” and runs until Sep­tem­ber 4th. She helped put it together at the group’s Foggy Bottom-based facilities.

She said the exhibit “is meant to focus atten­tion on the sit­u­a­tion in Gaza.” There are three artists show­cas­ing their work in the exhibit, which has drawn many visitors–further show­ing the artist’s increas­ing prominence.

Zughaib, like her art, has served as a bridge between nations. For instance, she served as United States Cul­tural Envoy to the West Bank, Pales­tine. She said, “My inten­tion as an artist, espe­cially after 9/11, is to fur­ther the dia­logue between East and West, con­tinue to try to under­stand each other and bring peo­ple together in con­ver­sa­tion with the hope of mutual under­stand­ing, accep­tance and respect.”


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