Transforming through art

In the best of times, support and funding for the arts can be underwhelming. During times of austerity, they can vanish. Lebanon’s historic economic crisis has battered the arts with immense difficulties as patrons and supporters reduce their spending to necessities. But it doesn’t mean the arts are disappearing. On the contrary, Lebanese artists in Lebanon and worldwide continue to create an impact despite the arduous barriers they face.

As part of AUB’s centennial of coeducation, we celebrate the women of AUB who influence the arts and create positive change in their communities through their creative work.

Jana Aridi, Netherlands

Art and design are the outlets for one’s innate thoughts, needs, and visions. I believe it is a universal language through which we can reach the world. Beirut was once the hub of this beautiful culture, and my efforts are going into bringing it back on the map.

I am currently registering with a cofounder a new design hub, Diwan of Culture, Design, and Innovation (DCDI), sponsored by the Goethe Institute to promote the design culture in Lebanon through workshops, entrepreneurship programs, residencies, exhibitions, and much more.

Sahar Assaf, United States of America

As a theater maker, I aspire to make space for rarely told stories. Some stories that affect us as a collective under certain systems will never make it to the history books. I firmly believe that although theater (and art in general) cannot topple a regime or change the status quo, it can document certain events in a tangible format and in our collective consciousness.

AUB gave me a space to experiment and test my passion for theater. The first play I directed was at AUB’s Drama Club. Today, as my work is focused on documentary theater, I feel I’ve come full circle.

Lina Shamma, Lebanon

In times of stress and frustration, as Lebanon is currently experiencing, art and design play a healing role. At all times, aesthetics impact hearts and minds, fostering hope and trust.

In my work as a potter, I try to channel a sense of playful lightness merged with humor. The functional works I create vary in types of clay and glaze and embody fun and fantasy. I complement some with delicate flowers in various hues.

In others, I add unconventional discordant pieces, trying to push the envelope by reinterpreting everyday objects.

Sibylle Tarazi, Lebanon

Born to a family of archaeologists, designers, and craftsmen specializing in Middle Eastern art, I was inevitably immersed in a stimulating historical and contemporary art milieu. My pieces are an eclectic reflection of my life’s experiences.

I currently have my own collection of small furniture ethically and sustainably produced in Beirut. Besides empowering artisans, my work also looks to empower the young designers, giving them the chance to proceed with their higher education along with mentorship.