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 Samia A. Halaby  (1936 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut / Palestinian Territory, Occupied/Jordan      Known for: abstract painting, printmaking

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Samia A Halaby
An example of work by Samia A. Halaby
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following information courtesy of the artist:

Born in Jerusalem, Palestine, Samia A. Halaby has been a painter, writer, and educator.  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.

She was raised in Palestine prior to the establishment of the state of Israel.  After emigration to the US as a child and graduation from Mid-Western universities, she spent seventeen years teaching at the college level, finally moving to New York in 1976 where she still lives and works.

Her mature style began in the nineties.  It emerged from decades of investigating the meaning of the rectangular picture plane in relation to abstraction.  Free form painting hanging on the wall as well as hanging sculptures were the result.  The hanging sculptures are three dimensional works using acrylics, paper and paper mache.  The shaped paintings are cut and stitched canvases with layers creating a painterly bas-relief.

Beginning in the late nineties, she began documenting the work of Palestinian artists, traveling widely to meet and interview them.  This resulted in the writing of a book titled Liberation Art of Palestine.  It is the most recent in a series of essays on the subject of digital art, and Arabic art.

She taught at colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad from 1962 to 1997, including at Yale University, Indiana University, and the University of Hawaii.


1961-63 Indiana University, Bloomington, Master of Fine Arts in Painting,

1959-60 Michigan State University, E. Lansing, Master of Art in Painting

1954-59  University of Cincinnati, Ohio, Bachelor of Science in Design

SELECTED SOLO SHOWS of static paintings:

2003  Internation Center of Bethlehem

2000  Sakakini Art Center, Ramallah, Palestine

1995  Darat Al-Funun, Amman, Jordan

1988  Tossan-Tossan Gallery, New York City (also in 1983)

1983  Housatonic Museum, Bridgeport, Connecticut

1978  Marilyn Pearl Gallery, New York

1972  Yale School of Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

1971  Phyllis Kind Gallery, Chicago


2002 The 13th Afro-Asian, Latin-American Exchange Exhibition, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum
sponsored by JAALA Japan AfroAsian Latin American Artists Association

2002  “Williamsburg Bridges Palestine 2002” Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, New York

2001 “Rhythms from Palestine” Musee du Chateau Dufresne, Montreal.

2000 UNESCO Center, Beirut, Lebanon.

1994    Forces of Change, National Museum of Women, Washington, DC

1991    Art And Algorithm, Minneapolis College of Art and Design

1990-91 Hilo International Exhibition Works on Paper, Univ. of Hawaii

1989    Tercero Bienal de la Habana '89, Cuba

1987    Video & Computer, Fine Arts Museum of Long Island

1986    Abstract Painting, Tossan-Tossan, New York

1985    Abstract In Motion, Design Emporium, Honolulu, Hawaii

1985    1st Bienal Internacional Copy-Art de Barcelona, Sala de Exposiciones, Fomento de Las Artes Decorativas, Barcelona, Spain

1985    TAMARIND:  25 Years, University Art Museum, Albaquerque, New Mexico. Curated by Marjorie Devon and traveled under auspices of The Art Museum Association of America

1983    On Trial: Yale School of Art, The 22 Wooster Gallery, New York

1981    Palestinske Kunstnere, Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, Norway

1979    Palestinian Artists Oriental Museum, Moscow

1979    Contemporary Arab Artists II, Iraqi Cultural Center London, London

1977    Contemporary American Printmaking, Indiana University Art Museum

1977    Contemporary American Prints, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City

1975    Tamarind Prints, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

1975    Group Show, Alternative Museum for International Art, New York

1975    Recent Acquisitions, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

1974    Nine Connecticut Artists, The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut

1973    American Drawing,  Yale University Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut

1969-70  Six Faculty Artists, Indiana University Museum, Bloomington, Indiana

1969    Faculty Exhibition, University of Michigan Museum, Ann Arbor

1968    Fifth Biennial Michiana Regional, South Bend Art Association, Indiana

1966-71   Art In The Embassies Program, Department of State & The National Gallery, Washington, DC

1966    16th Mid -America Annual Exhibition (Purchase Award), Nelson Rockhill Gallery of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

1965    Art of Two Cities, opened Time-Life Gallery, New York, then traveled for one year, (purchase award)

1963    M.F.A. show, Indiana University Museum, Bloomington, Indiana

1962    Second Biennial Michiana Regional Exhibition, South Bend Art Association, South Bend, Indiana

1961    Third Interior Valley Competition, The Contemporary Art Center at The Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio

In 1994 she designed the set for the dance performance of Jabberwalkie by the Dance Company Perspectives in Motion at Pace University.



1998 Lincoln Center, New York

1998 Williamsburg Art and Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY

1997 Philadelphia College of Art; Pennsylvania

1997 Art Center, West Bank, Palestine

1997 Darat al funun, Amman, Jordan

1994 Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York;

1993 & 1994 FISEA (Fourth International Symposium on Electronic Art) Minneapolis then Philadelphia.



Technology, Abstraction, and Kinetic Painting, FISEA PAPERS, November 1993, pgs 57-66

Pictures in Computer Medium, PROCEEDINGS of the 9th SCAN Conference, 1989, pgs 100 to 105.

Nature, Reality and Abstract Picturing, Leonardo, Volume 20, issue 3, 1987

Her work is in the following museum collections:

Alternative Museum, New York, NY; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The British Museum, London, England; Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, Michigan; Center for the Arts, Vero Beach, Florida; Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio; Fine Arts Museum of Long Island, Hampstead, New York; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, Indiana; The Guggenheim Museum, New York, NY; Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii; Indiana University Museum, Bloomington, Indiana; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, Indiana; Institute Du Monde Arab, Paris, France; Kalamazoo Institute of Art, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts;
Michigan State University Museum, East Landing, Michigan; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Nelson Rockhill Gallery of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Palm Springs Desert Museum, Palm Springs, California; Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City, Iowa; Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky; Tamarind Lithography Institute, Albuquerque, New Mexico; The University Gallery, Memphis State University, Memphis, Tennessee; University of Michigan, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Yale University Gallery, New Haven Connecticut.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Jerusalem in 1936, Samia Halaby is a leading Palestinian painter and scholar.  After immigrating to the US via Lebanon in 1951, she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Cincinnati in 1959 and a Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University in 1963.  Shortly after, she began an extensive career in teaching art at the university level throughout the US, which culminated in a decade long position as the first full-time female associate professor at Yale School of Art in New Haven, Connecticut.

Although based in New York, Halaby has also worked in the Arab world, teaching at such institutions as Birzeit University in the West Bank and Darat al-Funun in Amman, Jordan.  Since 1970, she has held solo exhibitions, both in the US and abroad and has been featured in a number of groundbreaking group exhibitions of Arab art throughout the US and Europe. 

Although her painting style has changed dramatically over the years—from large canvases exploring the color planes of geometric and helix formations to colorist assemblages that speak of movement and nature—she has continued to push the boundaries of art for over fifty years.  As such, she is recognized as a major innovator of the school of abstraction in contemporary Arab art. 

Halaby’s vivid canvases have been hailed by a number of international publications including The New York Times and Art in America. Forever on the cutting-edge of art, in 1983, she created a computer program for kinetic paintings, resulting in several audio-visual presentations, including a tour of Syria, Palestine and Jordan and a performance accompanied by live musicians at New York’s Lincoln Center (1998).

Halaby’s work is housed in several museum collections worldwide, most notably the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, The British Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Detroit Institute of Art. As an art historian, she has been instrumental in curating several exhibitions in the US.

In 2002 her many years of scholarship led to the publishing of Liberation Art of Palestine, one of the few English language books on contemporary Palestinian art available today.

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