Posted by Guest on March 27, 2017 in Blog

By Samantha Leathley

IMG_3199.JPGFrom the very beginning, AAIF has worked with the Kahlil Gibran Memorial Foundation to ensure his legacy continues to grow. In addition to his unparalleled poetry, his lush illustrations and artwork have played a prominent role in both the gala itself and its production. Generously provided to us by his cousin, Gibran’s “The Enchanted Forest” illustration has been featured on our invitations, programs, and website, imbuing the annual Kahlil Gibran Spirit of Humanity Awards with a sense of rich history.

IMG_3193.JPGJust this year, the copper print plate we’ve been using since 1999 to make our invitation and program book covers has made it final resting spot at the Arab American Institute Foundation office. This exquisite piece of art now joins a group of historical items we have housed here at the Foundation.

Much like his poetry, Gibran’s visual works were characterized by his use of symbolic motifs to express deeper philosophical contemplations. The Enchanted Forest is a stunning example of this type of expression, and has gained fame in particular through Gibran’s charcoal and pencil drawing, The Divine World

As many Gibran lovers well know, the meanings undergirding his visual and literary works are frequently intertwined. This is elegantly demonstrated in Gibran’s Enchanted Forest illustration featured annually for our gala.  The hand in the center of the artwork calls to mind the usage of a hand as a symbol of knowledge, foresight, and identity in Gibran’s works, such as The Broken Wings. Furthermore, the flowers and foliage which embrace it are both decorative and evocative. Reflections on flowers and nature, undoubtedly inspired by the lush foliage of Lebanon in springtime, permeate Gibran’s works. For us living in the colder, austere environs of Washington DC, it is fitting that the same white daffodils which enliven our Gibran illustration also adorn Gibran’s Memorial Garden on Massachusetts Avenue.

AAIF’s Kahlil Gibran Gala celebrates the many achievements of thought and service carried out by Arab Americans each year. The depth of Gibran’s illustration parallels the depth of intellectual expression and achievement that animates the Arab American community and is reflected in our annual gala. We are excited to continue this valued tradition in the coming years, and to continue to recall Gibran’s work through his intricate illustration.


 Samantha Leathley is a Spring 2017 Intern at the Arab American Institute.