Beirut's American Versity Comes up With Ingenious Way to Help Its Poor Students

Published February 28th, 2021 - 07:45 GMT
The Lebanese American University uses art to help its students
LAU ArtsRising’ runs until March 1. (Instagram)

With students across the country fearing Lebanon’s financial crisis will ruin their education, the Lebanese American University has come up with a creative way to help those struggling to pay tuition fees.

In collaboration with the online auction house ArtScoops, LAU is holding “LAU ArtsRising,” an auction featuring 40 pieces donated by notable LAU alumni, faculty, artists and friends of the university, under the theme of Henri Matisse’s mantra that “creativity takes courage.”

The auction includes paintings, sculptures, and fashion creations from such artists as LAU professor of art Chaouki Chamoun, department of art and design chair Hannibal Srouji, alumni Mona Hatoum and Rana Raouda, and designer Elie Saab, co-founder of LAU’s bachelor of arts in fashion design.


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All the auction proceeds will go toward the Emergency Financial Aid Fund, an initiative helping LAU students struggling to meet the steep financial hikes caused by the economic crisis.

Over 70 percent of LAU’s 8,500 students have demonstrated new financial needs, forcing many to consider dropping out of university.

“We are fully aware of the great weight on our students and their families’ shoulders under these difficult conditions,” LAU president Michel E. Mawad said, “and we will do everything in our power to share that burden. The LAU ArtsRising online art auction is one of many creative solutions we have implemented to help safeguard our students’ future and continue delivering quality education.”

So far, the auction has raised almost $114, 000 from bids on 19 artworks, with four days left to go. They hope to raise even more, to help as many students as possible.

Pieces being auctioned include two pieces from Hatoum – “T42” and “T42 (Gold)” – which distorts the basic function of a white china teacup by doubling it. The resulting sculpture shows two cups melding together in the middle, reminiscent of Brancusi’s “The Kiss.”

“When I was a struggling student in the early ’70s at Beirut University College (BUC), now LAU, I was fortunate to receive financial aid from the university, which allowed me to complete my studies,” Hatoum said. “I am happy to now be in a position to donate artworks through the newly formed Mona Hatoum Foundation.”

Chamoun is offering his painting “Land and Mountain of Peace,” featuring his iconic row of small spectators at the bottom, watching a wintery mountain scene.


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“Contributing to student financial aid is a pleasure to the soul,” he said, “especially when it comes from someone whose education and ultimately his success was most provided for by scholarships, love and the support of others.”

Raouf Rifai has donated his “Darwich Ice cream,” created in response to the many struggles Lebanon is facing.

“My piece is about how after the blast the pleasures of life are at a minimum – something as simple as an ice cream is now a big luxury for us,” he told The Daily Star. “Nothing is left after all these crises we’ve had. I’ve always tried to help and because I’m a professor I’m very aware of the problems they’re facing.

“Art is a talent and while it might change it won’t ever get wiped out,” he added. “Some people spend their whole lives working in engineering or math and decide they want to become artists. If anything, it’s in times of great crises that art and culture grows.”

‘LAU ArtsRising’ runs until March 1. To view the auction, visit

This article has been adapted from its original source. 

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