Sumayyah Samaha

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Sumayyah Samaha was born in Lebanon, and now resides in New York City. She creates art in the mediums of painting, drawing, mixed media, installation, and clay. In recent years, she has been creating works that communicate the catastrophic nature of current Middle Eastern conflicts. In works such as "Palestinian Fence," "Fifth Crusade," and "Mausoleums," Samaha mourns the loss of life and destruction of homelands that have resulted from the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the American occupation of Iraq.[1]

Samaha received her BA from the American University of Beirut and her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, Chemical Bank, and Centrum Sztuki in Poland.[2]

Artist Statement

From the Skoto Gallery, NY, site:

"Atmospheric and emotive, Sumayyah Samaha’s paintings are at once expressive and internal. Saturated color and overlying textures demonstrate a command of medium, giving a multidimensional feel to the work. Although abstract, the artist’s compositions often allude to figurative elements, particularly those found in nature. This is most visible in Samaha’s work of the late 90s in which the Catskill Mountains and the dramatic landscapes of her native Lebanon serve as inspiration. In these oil paintings, vibrant reds, rich browns and, deep blues and purples give way to imposing mountainous forms that overpower moody and tumultuous skies. Suggestive of an earth that is in constant dialogue with the cosmos, these compositions overpower the viewer with colorist interpretations of the forces of nature. In a previous series, these interpretations appeared in more evident forms such as flowers or human figures.... In recent years Samaha has been creating work that communicates the catastrophic nature of current Middle Eastern political conflicts."[3]


Selected SOLO Exhibitions

  • 2010 Art Circle Gallery, "Aesthetics: Art & Politics", Beirut, Lebanon
  • 2008 Skoto Gallery, "Darkness Ushers Dawn", New York, NY
  • 2007 Wilmer Jennings Gallery at Kenkeleba, "Love, Life and Pain", New York, NY
  • 2004 Blink Gallery, "Personal Landscapes", Andes, NY
  • 2002 Denise Bibro Fine Art, "Strange Fruit", recent paintings, Chelsea, New York, NY
  • 1998 Farleigh Dickinson University, Paintings, Hackensack, NJ
  • 1994 Denise Bibro Fine Art, "Landscapes: Where My Soul Roams", SoHo, New York, NY
  • 1993 Kenkelaba Gallery, Four Artists-solo shows, New York, NY
  • 1982 22 Wooster Gallery, "New York, NY 1981" , 22 Wooster Gallery, New York, NY

Museum Exhibitions

  • 2005 "In / Visible - Contemporary Art by Arab American Artists", Opening of The Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, Michigan (featured work: "Palestine Fence")
  • 1994 Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, "American Abstraction: A new Decade", Loretto, PA

Selected Group Exhibitions

  • 2012 Berlin Biennale - ArtWiki: Digital venue of the 7th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, "25 Years Anniversary Show Part 2", Curated by: Kazuko Miyamoto; Gallery onetwentyeight, 128 Rivington Street, New York, NY; Skoto Gallery, Exhibition of Drawings, New York, NY
  • 2011 Curate NYC - "Towering" Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, Executive Director, Queens Council on the Arts; Skoto Gallery, Summer Show, New York, NY
  • 2010 "New York Chronicles," Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar VCUQ Gallery Doha, Qatar
  • 2008/09 "ART in Embassies Exhibition" [US Embassy], Kuwait City, Kuwait.
  • 2009 Skoto Gallery, group exhibition, New York, NY; "Small Works; 30 seconds" Washington Square Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2007 Blink Gallery, Andes, NY, 3 person show
  • 2006 "3 Arab Painters in New York: Samia Halaby, Sumayyah Samaha, Athir Shayota," Curated by Maymanah Farhat, The Bridge Gallery, New York, NY


  • Samaha's painting, "Pine trees don't make pine nuts," appears in the book At the Edge of the City: Reinhabiting Public Space Toward the Recovery of Beirut's Horsh Al-Sanawbar - Fadi Shayya (Editor), George Arbid (Foreword), Danny Khoury (Designer) - First edition in 2010, Published by DISCURSIVE FORMATIONS.
  • Entries about Samaha are featured in Fayeq Oweis' Encyclopedia of Arab American Artists (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT 2008) and Helen Khal's The Women Artists in Lebanon (Prepared for the Institute of Women's Studies in the Arab World)

Major Works

’’Untitled’’ (2004), a painting by Sumayyah Samaha that was on display at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 2008
  • A painting by Samaha, Untitled (2004, Oil on canvas), was on display in the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 2008 as part of an Art in Embassies Exhibition.
  • Her work Palestine Fence was featured in "In/Visible," the opening exhibit at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI.

External links

Sumayyah Samaha's ArtWiki page

Sumayyah Samaha's website