We Love Life Whenever We Can

Leyburn Library, April 1 - December 8, 2023

We Love Life Whenever We Can

About the Exhibition

Drawn from the collection of the Arab American National Museum, the first and only museum of its kind in the United States devoted to documenting, preserving, and presenting the history, culture, and contributions of Arab Americans, this exhibition presents the cultural, historical, and political legacies of five dynamic artists and scholars of Arab origin.

The title, We Love Life Whenever We Can, is inspired by verses from the late poet Mahmoud Darwish's Fewer Roses (1986). It aptly evokes the themes examined in this exhibition through a range of media and techniques: the agony of displacement, exile, and exclusion, and explores the contemporary conditions of war, conflict, and identity.

Encountering the works in this exhibition allows us to foster visibility to the often-overlooked work of Arab American artists in American contemporary arts. As the Museums at W&L continue to provide space for underrepresented artists, we invite you to reflect on conditions shaping our everyday lives relating to social justice, resistance, and survival. It features the artwork of Mary Tuma, John Halaka, Youmna Chlala, Sama Alshaibi, and Dena Al-Adeeb.

This exhibition was curated by Isra El-beshir, Director of Museums at W&L, and Jumana Al-Ahmad, Visiting Assistant Professor of Arabic, in collaboration with Merrill Dowdy '23.

Above Image: THOWRA I, 2011, Photograph, Sama Alshaibi

Learn more about the artists and partners for We Love Life Whenever We Can.

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Museums at Washington and Lee University

Events and Programming

Artist Talk: Sama Alshaibi

September 25, 2023, 5:30 p.m.
Leyburn Library
Photographer, multimedia conceptual artist, and professor Sama Alshaibi will join us to discuss her work and how she uses art to challenge Western ideas of Eastern cultures. Her work is currently on display in the Leyburn Library gallery, in We Love Life Whenever We Can. Co-sponsored by the Middle East and South Asia Studies Program and the Center for International Education.

Author Talk: Evelyn Alsultany

October 10, 2023, 5 – 6 p.m.
Stackhouse Theater

Evelyn Alsultany will give an overview of her latest book, "Broken: The Failed Promise of Muslim Inclusion." Alsultany is a Professor at the University of Southern California, a leading expert on the history of representations of Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. media, and Hollywood consultant. Hosted by the Employee Resource Group: Underrepresented Religious, Spiritual, and Cultural Identities and sponsored by the Museums at W&L and Office of Community-Based Learning.

Lunch and Learn — Stories of Migration

Select Mondays in 2023, 12:00 — 1:00 p.m.
Reeves Museum of Ceramics
Join us for a special Lunch and Learn series inspired by our current exhibitions that will explore themes of migration, diaspora, and identity. Lunch is provided, but be sure to sign up quickly. All are welcome.

And We Love Life: A Short Films Program

November 7, 2023, 7:00 p.m.
Stackhouse Theater
Inspired by our current exhibition, We Love Life Whenever We Can, the Museums invites you to an evening of contemporary short films by Arab and South Asian filmmakers: Bouchaib (dir. by Ali Boudra, runtime 13 min.), Cousins (Karina Dandashi, 13 min.), and Sweet Refuge (Maryam Mir, 12 min.). Join us for a post-screening discussion on identity, culture, community, and pride. 
Note: Space is limited; first come, first served. For accommodations, please contact museums@wlu.edu. 

Co-sponsored by the Middle East and South Asia Studies Program and the Office of Inclusion and Engagement. 

Photo (left): Film still from Sweet Refuge (2023), ©Maryam Mir, ©Chheangkea Ieng

Past Events

Arab Women's Art and Activism for Social Justice

April 3, 2023, 12:15 — 1 p.m.
Leyburn Library (Harte Center), Room 119
The Museums at W&L held a special talk by Professor Jumana Al-Ahmad. The talk was in conjunction with We Love Life Whenever We Can, an exhibition highlighting the work of five dynamic Arab artists and scholars in Leyburn Library Gallery.