British Columbia·PHOTOS

A healing journey in sculpture by Marie Khouri

Marie Khouri fled war-torn Lebanon as a teenager after her father was killed. Decades later, she became a sculptor. A trip to Beirut two years ago made her realize her work embodied her need to heal from the tragedy.

A trip home to Lebanon's capital years after the war inspires a healing series of sculpture

Khouri's trip back to Lebanon is the inspiration behind latest exhibit. (CBC)

You can leave home but home never leaves you. Not completely. 

Vancouver sculptor Marie Khouri's family fled civil-war-torn Lebanon in the 1970s when she was a teenager. Her father had been killed and it was a tragic and tumultuous time.

Visit changed everything

Years later, Khouri became a sculptor. But it wasn't until she returned to Beirut two years ago, and stood in the exact place where her childhood home once stood, that it sunk in how the art she had been creating was full of memory.

"It became and stayed a memory, an imprint of these times for me," she said.

"It was a clear visual because I had seen scenes of war when I was 14-years-old ... It made me realize that a lot of what I was doing back in Vancouver were elements that were mimicking or speaking through what I had seen of that building."
Cast in wax then completed in moulton bronze (Marie Khouri)
The building was the Holiday Inn. At the time, it was a towering example of hope for the future. But the hotel never opened and became the site of some of the biggest battles in Beirut during the war. 
The Holiday Inn in Beirut never opened. (CBC)

"To see these buildings burnt to ashes and demolished and then reborn … it's a little like redo. We're resilient and we grow."
Marie Khouri puts cedar boughs in many of her works. (Marie Khouri)

Meditation and meaning

Khouri calls her art series Bronze, a retrospective of what she started 12 years ago with the renewed realization that the pieces are full of her past, and show how she wants to move to the future.

It took two years to complete. 

There are perforated distressed sculptures that recall damaged buildings, crumbling shells, and empty nests.

First, she casts the works in wax, then she pours molten bronze in the mould to melt the wax away, leaving the lace thin bronze standing.
Khouri believes bronze is a symbol of eternal life even though the surface may weather and change over time. (Marie Khouri)

You can see cedar boughs in many of the pieces. Cedar is the symbol of Lebanon and a universal emblem of peace.

"Bronze is eternal. It never moves but it changes with time."

Khouri described her process as a form of meditation. She works alone most of the time in a dark, messy studio.
Marie Khoui's exhibit is at the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver. (Marie Khouri)

The Bronze exhibit is at the Equinox Gallery.

Watch Marie Khouri in conversation with Lien Yeung on Our Vancouver.

with files from North By Northwest