"Corps bleu (Bribes de corps)", by Huguette Caland, 1973 (Courtesy Huguette Caland Estate)
Artists belonging to the Arab diaspora in the United States have contributed to the development of American art since the early twentieth century, yet the story of this artistic community has rarely been considered. Converging Lines: Tracing the Artistic Lineage of the Arab Diaspora in the U.S. seeks to shed light on this history by identifying some of the aesthetic threads that connect a diverse, multigenerational group of artists, thus offering a template for future scholarship.
One of the most prominent themes explored by Arab American and U.S-based Arab artists over the last seventy-five years has been the process of migration and the state of in-betweenness that often results. Beginning with the work of Kahlil Gibran, a member of the earliest known Arab American creative community, the exhibition explores how artists have used concepts like third spaces, community building, hybridity, and memory formation in works that allude to the complexities of migration, including invisibility, alienation, intergenerational trauma, and changing identities.
Aesthetics have been crucial to forming this distinct view of American life, as ongoing experimentation has allowed artists to address evolving communities in the U.S. and beyond. From mystical, symbolist drawings to disorientating mixed-media objects, the featured works range from reflections of longing and introspection to calls for new ways of seeing and cultural rebellion. In this sense, Converging Lines traces the artistic lineage of shape-shifting artists who have embraced subjectivity as a way of claiming their place in American art and subverting dominant narratives.
With support from Betty H. Sams, Ammanda Seelye Salzman, Peter and Ann Tanous, Gretchen and David Welch
This exhibition has ended.
(Photos by Jason Dixson. Click to enlarge.)
About the Artists
The exhibition features works by: Etel Adnan, Sama Alshaibi, Zeina Barakeh, Kamal Boullata, Huguette Caland, Yasmine Diaz, Dahlia Elsayed, Kahlil Gibran, Sherin Guirguis, Helen Khal, John Halaka, Jackie Milad, Mohammed Omar Khalil, Zeinab Saab, Jacqueline Reem Salloum, Nazar Yahya, and Helen Zughaib.
Watch a guided tour of the works featured in "Converging Lines" by curator Maymanah Farhat.
"Converging Lines" Podcast
Artists Helen Zughaib and John Halaka join MEI’s Lyne Sneige in conversation on the MEI Art Gallery’s exhibition, "Converging Lines: Tracing the Artistic Lineage of the Arab Diaspora in the U.S." They discuss the exhibition's themes of exile, memory formation, changing identities, and the state of in-betweenness that often accompanies migration.
Watch the opening panel event featuring curator Maymanah Farhat and three participating artists: Sama Al Shaibi, Sherin Guirguis and Jaqueline Reem Salloum. The artists discuss their work, the impact of straddling different worlds and the thematics that drive their thinking such as the in-betweenness that often accompanies migration.