Linda Dalal Sawaya—artist, illustrator, writer, teacher, cook, gardener—is the fifth and youngest daughter of Lebanese immigrants from Douma, an archetypal mountain village overlooking the Mediterranean. Sawaya’s art effuses color, texture, and pattern like the Persian rugs embellishing her childhood home in Los Angeles. Her passions emanate from her parents and grandparents: her father an avid photographer and fig tree planter, yogurt-maker, teller of Joha stories; her mother and grandmother outstanding cooks and domestic artists; and her multi-lingual doctor grandfather, whose love of books, art, history, madonnas, Ripley’s Believe-It-or-Not, are preserved in layered, collaged journals. Following her grandfather’s love of books that he instilled in her while teaching her to read at 5, she made her first book—an illustrated autobiography—in elementary school.
After graduating UCLA in art, her first three month “roots” journey to Lebanon transformed her life as much as her years growing up in a Lebanese-American household full of the people, food, Arabic language, music, aromas, and furnishings of Lebanon intermingled with English, Spanish, and rock ‘n roll.
Following her father into photography beginning with her first camera a Brownie Starflash for her 10th birthday and moving into black and white environmental portraits, her work flowed into ceramics, then graphic design, and ultimately painting in a variety of media, illustrating children’s books, book covers, and painting murals.
A natural progression writing her family cookbook Alice’s Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking, a tribute to her mother, Alice and grandmother Dalal. Alice’s Kitchen, a cherished book for children of immigrants whose mothers prepared the fabulous Lebanese dishes preserved through generations without writing or measuring, is memoir and labor of love.
Teaching has been an integral and joyful part of Sawaya’s art: working in schools doing art residencies with children, creating murals, teaching Lebanese cooking classes, and teaching adults collage and Islamic tile painting in her studio.
Sawaya’s work has appeared in international publications and has been exhibited in New York, California, Oregon, and Washington. In 2016 Sawaya painted a mandala mural on the Black United Fund Building in Portland, Oregon.