National Trust for Historic Preservation

Helen Zughaib: Migrations

Syrian Migration Series #1, 2016, archival pigment print, 1/20, courtesy of the artist.

Syrian Migration Series #14, 2016, archival pigment print, 1/20, courtesy of the artist.

Helen Zughaib: Migrations
May 23 – July 28, 2019

Artist’s Talk & Opening Reception: June 7, 2019, 6pm

As part of the series Art at Wilson House: Wilson and the World, artist Helen Zughaib exhibits recent work throughout the historic Wilson House. Inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s 1941 seminal Migration Series, Zughaib’s Syrian Migration Series allows for an exploration of the contemporary consequences of the post WWI peace through the lens of the current Syrian conflict and the mass migration it has triggered. This exhibition is presented to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.


The Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I resulted in the creation of modern borders in the Middle East that have lasting effects on today’s geopolitics. Zughaib’s Syrian Migration Series seeks to refocus attention on the modern Syrian crisis and give voice to those affected, particularly the experience of women and children migrants and refugees. The series is an interpretation of Jacob Lawrence’s 1941 seminal Migration Series depicting the mass movement of African Americans from the Southern United States to points north and west.  Known as The Great Migration, this defining period in American history is ignited during President Wilson’s first term by the start of WWI and the demand for labor in urban centers and amplified by the political, social, and economic repression of African Americans in the South. The intersectionality of the Great Migration and the present-day Syrian migration reframes these domestic movements within a global context. The presentation of Zughaib’s work against the backdrop of the Woodrow Wilson House provokes a reexamination of Wilson’s international legacy in the contemporary sphere.

About the Artist

Helen Zughaib was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and holds a BFA from Syracuse University. Her work has been exhibited widely in the US, 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, the Arab American National Museum in Michigan, and the DC Art Bank collection.  Zughaib’s paintings have been gifted to heads of state by President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  She currently lives in Washington, DC, and works fulltime as an artist.  More About the Artist

This program is part of the Wilson House’s new interpretation focused on African American history, women’s history and Wilson’s international impact. The Woodrow Wilson House is a property of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded, non-profit corporation, helping people protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them.
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