Arab Artist of the Month: Samia Halaby

Suncatcher in a Frame

Some of Samia Halaby’s works are featured at the Barjeel Art Foundation

Palestinian Artist Samia Halaby. Photo from

Samia Halaby is a Palestinian artist born in Jerusalem in 1936. She is a leading contemporary abstract painter in the Arab world.

Our project inspiration comes from one of the videos Halaby created using the programming language C, with her Amiga computer.

We will explore the concept of Symmetry vs. Chaos.

But first, head over to watch Samia Halaby’s video below:

This Kinetic Painting Group performance of “ISIS” (which stands for the International Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Symmetry) took place in New York on May 21, 2019, 8:00 pm.

The performance consisted of Samia Halaby (painter and programmer) and four musicians playing percussion, tambourine, bala, oud and mbira instruments.

Halaby’s computer program — which she calls “Kinetic Painting” — was written in the C computer language. Samia began writing the program in the late 1980s and continued to refine it through the mid 1990s. This program converts the keyboard into a kind of abstract painting piano which she uses during performances such as this one. She also uses this program to create unique static images.” (Adapted from source: Samia Halaby Foundation, 2020)

There will be a live webinar via zoom on how to create this project on Tuesday, 25th August 2020, at 5pm UAE time. Click here to be directed to the class.

Materials you will use from this box:

  • 6pc clear plastic sheets
  • Vellum (tracing) paper in six colours
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • 2pc Binder clips
  • Picture frame

These are several screenshots taken from Samia Halaby’s video (above), that show symmetry and movement. Take note of the patterns and colors:

By taking inspiration from her video and the screenshots, you will recreate your own patterns using the colored tracing papers.

  1. You will use one color and pattern per plastic sheet.
  2. Start by creating a symmetrical pattern on the first plastic sheet, and move towards the sixth plastic sheet by reducing the symmetry in your pattern. 
  3. Your last (6th) plastic sheet should look chaotic.
Step no. 2
Project Peek


Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah features an extensive collection of modern Arab art. We encourage you to visit the foundation to see the featured artist’s works up close and personal!

Click here to find out more about Barjeel Art Foundation.

Published by Farah Nasrawi

A multi-hyphenate designer, an artist, a teacher

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