First female associate professor at the Yale School of Art
"Samia Halaby is a Palestinian artist and scholar who lives and works in New York. Born in Jerusalem in 1936 during the British Mandate, today she is recognized as one of the Arab world's leading contemporary painters. Since beginning her artistic career in the early 1960s, she has exhibited in galleries, museums, and art fairs throughout the US, Europe, Asia, and South America. Her work is housed in private and public collections around the world.
Receiving her academic training in the US, Halaby has also been active in American academia, teaching art at the university level for seventeen years, a decade of which was spent as an associate professor at the renowned Yale School of Art (1972–82) She also taught at the University of Hawaii, Michigan State University and the Kansas City Art Institute. At the Yale School of Art, she was the first woman to hold the position of associate professor.
Based in New York since the 1970s, she has long been active in the city's art scene, mainly through independent and non-profit art spaces and artist-run initiatives, in addition to participating in leftist political organizing for various causes. She has long been an advocate of pro-Palestinian struggles.
Halaby and her family were expelled from their home in the port city of Yafa (Jaffa) in 1948 with the creation of the Israeli state. They fled to Lebanon, where they resided in Beirut until 1951 and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1959, she received her Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Cincinnati and graduated from Indiana University with a Masters in Fine Art in 1963. Shortly after she went on to hold her first academic teaching position at the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri. In 1966, she returned to the Arab world for the first time since being exiled for a long tour of Palestine, Syria, Egypt, and Turkey, where she researched Islamic architecture and geometric abstraction as part of a Faculty Development grant from the Kansas City Art Institute. Since then she has periodically returned to Palestine and the Arab world, where she has worked, conducted research, and exhibited. Her frequent visits have resulted in a number of developments in her work including large bodies of paintings and drawings exploring the visual culture of Palestine and its natural setting. This includes a special documentary set of works on paper titled "The Kafr Qasem Drawings," an ongoing series that began in 1999 after interviewing survivors and relatives of the victims of the 1956 massacre that occurred in the Palestinian village of Kafr Qasem." (1)