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LKN Citizen: Etab Hreib Brings Lessons in Culture, Humility and a Little Bit of Art

Art is therapy for artist Etab Hreib, a Syrian refugee in the United States since 2009.

Hreib fled the protracted conflict in her home country, where her son was imprisoned and killed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Two of her children are a part of the growing Syrian diaspora, making their homes in locations far from their mother's adopted Chicago.

Hreib, who grew up in a peaceful household with a Christian mother and Muslim father, said she wants to show people that Syria hasn't always been this way.

  • Etab Hreib

    Using Syrian artist and refugee Etab Hreib’s multimedia work “Syrian Countryside” as their inspiration, students created their own small canvases for auction at a campus event to raise awareness and funds for refugees.

  • Etab Hreib, professor and students

    The event, sponsored by the Arab Studies Department and the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, raised nearly $2,000 for the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency, for professional development of Syrian refugees in Charlotte.

  • Etab Hreib in activity with students
  • Etab Hreib working with student
  • Student working with paint
  • Student artwork
  • Etab Hreib and students show off their artwork
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Since 2012, Hreib has regularly visited Davidson with sponsorship from the Arab Studies Department, Theatre Department and Dean Rusk Office for International Studies. Again, she shared her talent with Davidson students this month.

"She creates watercolor paintings of homes, water and scenes that she says she stores in her mind. 'It's all in here,' she said, pointing to her head. 'It's in my memory, my big memory,'" wrote the Lake Norman Citizen's Cassie Fambro.

Fambro profiled Hreib during the artist's recent visit at the invitation of Associate Professor of Arabic Rebecca Joubin, whom she met in Syria while Joubin was working on her doctoral degree. As part of her weeklong stay, Hreib workshopped small canvases with Davidson students, to be auctioned off at a fundraiser for the Carolina Refugee Resettlement Agency.

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