On invitation of the U.S. Embassy Bern, Helen Zughaib visited Switzerland this week as a part of the State Department’s Speaker Program. On Monday she held workshops for a multicultural school class in Bümpliz and a “Durchgangszentrum” (transit center for asylum seekers) in Lyss. She opened the workshops by discussing her family’s migration story and how it impacts her art – particularly her recent collection Stories My Father Told Me. Born in Beirut and living in the Middle East and Europe before moving to the U.S. to study art, Zughaib’s work reflects the diversity of experiences and connections that have contributed to her life and artistic inspiration.
Following her presentation in Bümpliz, the class of ninth-graders painted their own stories, depicting the journeys of their families and sharing their inspirations. The students impressed all with the depth of their thoughts, their candor and sincerity – exemplifying the respect and tolerance Zughaib advocates through her work.
At the transit center in Lyss, Zughaib met with asylum seekers and spoke about how she channels her observations and experiences into her pieces. Based on their shared multiculturalism, she encouraged them to express their thoughts and illustrate their stories as she has done. They connected over the similarities of their stories and the endurance of the human spirit through challenges – as well as over a meal prepared by those at the center.
Zughaib’s work promotes mutual understanding, acceptance, and respect; and uniquely depicts the merging of identities central to her own artistic development. For more info on Helen and her work, see the page here.