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Palestinian Art: Halaby, Halaka, Halawani

Samia Halaby

One of Palestine’s leading contemporary artists, Samia Halaby is equally accomplished as both a painter and as a printmaker. In 1948 she emigrated with her family first to Beirut and then to the United States. She received fine arts degrees from the University of Cincinnati (1954-59), Michigan State University (1959-60) and from Indiana University (1961-63).

Her work is abstract in form and its subject is the motion of things seen.  Oil is the basic medium of her major works.  Her work includes work on paper as well as use of acrylics and encaustic.  In the mid-eighties she explored digital media and created kinetic painting programs and videos in collaboration with musicians.

John Halaka

Artist's Statement:

I consider myself an activist artist whose creative work serves as a vehicle for meditation on personal, cultural and political concerns. I create allegorical images in my paintings and present personal narratives in my films, in order to raise questions, for myself as well as for the viewer, about some of the pressing issues of our time. Over the past couple of years, my creative work has expanded to include documentary filmmaking as one of the languages I employ to convey personal narratives about the construction, expression and perception of identity. The film projects that I am currently working on are a direct extension, albeit in a different medium, of the work I have produced throughout my career. For additional information about my documentary film projects please visit my other web site at

The primary focus of my work over the past two and a half decades can be summarized as an ongoing reflection on the frailty and resilience of the human condition and the persistent search for self-realization in the face of personal and cultural self-delusion. My experiences as an artist of Palestinian descent have shaped my pictorial investigations of cycles of repression and displacement, as well as an exploration of the relationships between desire, denial and instability in the construction and expression of identity. My recent and current work investigates issues of identity construction from personal, familial and political perspectives.

Rula Halawani

Rula Halawani (born 1964), an internationally renowned Palestinian photographer who was born, raised, and continues to live in the Mount of Olives neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, the camera is not only an extension of her eye, but also of her humanity and political identity.

Rula Halawani is a working artist, a photographer who lives and works in an intensely political environment. Halawani worked for Reuters until 1999, and since then has worked as a freelance photojournalist.

Halawani is constantly engaged in representing the daily transformation that occurs on the ground in Palestinian existence, which is overwhelmingly defined at the everyday level by political circumstances. Although her projects have a strong political message, they are an attempt to express aspects of the experience and feelings of the Palestinians, as a people. They allow others to look at and enter into the pictures and reflect on their own relationships to these experiences and feelings.