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Palestinian Art: Cook, Essa, Ghannam

Rajie Cook

Rajie / Roger Cook, (b 1930) an internationally known graphic designer, photographer and artist.
Cook is a graduate of the Pratt Institute and in 1997 was selected as Alumni of the year, and has also served on the Pratt Advisory Board. He has been a member of the American Institute of Graphic Arts.

After an extensive career in graphic design, Rajie Cook began to explore the creation of assemblage. His assemblage work often articulates the circumstances and experiences he encountered while in the US Task Force for the Middle East and traveling on fact-finding trips to Israel, Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza. His hand-made boxes expresses both graphically "and more powerfully than words" his deeply felt concern for human rights. His use of photography and found objects put his feelings and insights into tangible form.

Mervat Essa

Born in 1970 in the village of Jish, in the eastern Upper Galilee, only seven kilometers north-west of Safad, Mervat Essa studied ceramics at the School of Arts at Tel Hai College. In her artwork, Essa searches deep inside herself and designs her shapes and forms to make us see what can otherwise be imperceptible. For her, form and shape are the language by which she communicates her thoughts and her visual symbols combine to create a bridge between herself and the world.

Ibrahim Ghannam

Ibrahim Hassan Kheite (1930–1984), also known by the name Ibrahim Ghannam, was born and raised in the coastal village of Yajur. After he arrived in Beirut¡s Tall al-Za¡tar refugee camp and after polio confined him to a wheelchair, Ghannam resumed his childhood hobby. Thanks to an UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Words Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) nurse who provided him with painting supplies, Ghannam could vividly depict images of the countryside his bare feet had once walked.

Ghannam painted a splendid visual narrative of life in Yajur. Living on a rationed subsistence of canned foods, in a cubicle overlooking open sewers, Ghannam painted golden fields of harvest, thriving orange groves, and jubilant peasants at work. Painted with the meticulous precision of an Islamic miniaturist, all details within his frame claimed equal attention. Through his naive vision, Ghannam laboriously preserved for a generation born in the camp the legends of one of the villages demolished after the Palestinian exodus.

 He was a founding member of the General Union of Palestinian artists foundation, and the General Federation of Arab Artists foundation. He is the subject of Adnan Mdanat's 1977 documentary film Palestinian Visions.[2]