On February 22, 2017, Birzeit University Museum is launching a unique exhibition by artist Samia Halaby. Halaby is internationally acclaimed for her rich contribution to the art scene and distinctive mark on contemporary abstract painting, which she believes is an extension of abstract art as a liberal art movement.
For more than six decades, Halaby has explored and emulated new trends of various modern art schools, believing that painting is a key element of visual culture. At one point, her art production even crossed over into digital painting technology.
Documenting the Kafr Qasim Massacre in Painting, however, presents a different side of the artist’s work, who is an activist and advocate for the Palestinian cause. In this exhibition, Halaby uses illustrations and detailed scenes to document a painful and largely undocumented historical event – the Kafr Qasim Massacre.
The artist researched the project for years. She based her work on stories told by the survivors whom she frequently visited, the accounts of the families they lost in the massacre and all the press materials she could find.
Interestingly, Halaby presents the paintings as a work of documentation rather than a work of art. She leads us to recognize the strong bond between her art production and her political activism, which often pushed her to explore Palestinian art as liberation art.
For Halaby, this project falls within the framework of her activism, much like her design work of posters and banners used in demonstrations across the US. Through this project, she manages to raise questions on the role and place of art in the life.
Samia Halaby’s exceptional art experience makes her a main reference for studying modern and contemporary painting practice and bears witness to a unique model of art activism, whereby an artist-advocate’s political devotion to a cause never compromised the quality and quantity of her world-class art production along the years.
In this exhibition, Samia Halaby puts on display 16 prints as reproduction of her drawings, which are to form a permanent part of the Birzeit University Museum collection and be forever present in the consciousness of future generations.
This is not Halaby’s first contribution to the Birzeit Museum’s collection: in the past, she has donated a number of her works to the Museum and has helped collect artwork by other artists. She has also visited the University several times and met with students in art workshops. Although she has previously participated in group exhibitions, this is Halaby’s first solo show at the Birzeit Museum.
In addition to Documenting the Kafr Qasim Massacre in Painting, the artist will present three recently completed acrylic paintings as well as her book, Painting the Kafr Qasim Massacre. The book focuses on the drawing presented in the exhibition and on the work the artist has conducted with the people of Kafr Qasim, to whom she, and we at Birzeit University, extend our deepest thanks and gratitude.
February 22, 2017 to May 30, 2017