Samia Halaby, Palestine

Samia Halaby, Palestine

Born in Jerusalem in 1936, Samia Halaby is a leading abstract painter and an influential scholar of Palestinian art. Although based in the United States since 1951, Halaby is recognized as a pioneer of contemporary abstraction in the Arab world and a north star for the future of abstraction, internationally.

Halaby began her career in the early 1960s, shortly after graduating from Indiana University with an MFA in Painting. While teaching at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1964, she travelled to the Eastern Mediterranean as part of a faculty research grant and studied the geometric abstraction of the region’s Islamic architecture, which has continuously factored into her work.

Halaby works with the conviction that new approaches to painting can redirect ways of seeing and thinking not only within the realm of aesthetics but also as contributions to technological and social advancement. This underlying notion has led to additional experiments in drawing, printmaking, and computer-based kinetic art. Currently Halaby is represented by Ayyam Gallery and Sfeir-Semler Gallery



Inaash, 2018 
Embroidery floss DMC on canvas

“My aesthetic goal was to create a panting out of the myriad colors so that the heart of it would glow with light and activity,” says Halaby of the piece she developed for the Inaash Foundation. “I wanted the eye of the viewer to circle within the space of the painting. Of course, this plan was to be a guide to the embroidery of this painting onto cotton canvas.” Thus it was to be a painting not of pigment on canvas, but rather of dyed threads applied by the dexterous and experienced fingers of Palestinian women doing traditional cross stitch embroidery on a modern Palestinian work of art. 


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