VERA TAMARI, Palestine (1945)
Vera Tamari is a Palestinian artist, educator, and curator born in 1945 to a creative Jerusalem household. Her mother, Margo Dabbas, and brother, Vladimir Tamari, were both visual artists, and her sister, Tania, is a classical singer. In 1966, she received a B.A. in fine arts from the Beirut College for Women (presently the Lebanese American University), and studied ceramics at the Istituto Statale d’Arte per la Ceramica in Florence, Italy, from 1972 to 1974. In 1984, she obtained an MPhil in Islamic Art and Architecture from Oxford University. Tamari joined the Faculty of Architecture at Birzeit University in 1986, where she taught art history and visual communication for nearly two decades and established the Birzeit Ethnographic and Art Museum in 2005.
Tamari was only three years old when the 1948 Nakba threw her country into conditions of chaos from which it has yet to recover. Growing up in a perpetual state of war, with no resolution to the Israeli occupation in sight, she reached for art, culture, and education as a means of resistance and relief. She delivered political statements through her artistic expression, cultivated institutional spaces to preserve Palestinian cultural identity, and developed interactive programs to enhance critical thinking and creativity. Upon her return from university in Beirut in 1967, she taught art at an UNRWA-run training center for women in Ramallah and organized tours to villages to expose her students to nature and traditional craftsmanship. Inspired by the villages’ women potters, Tamari decided to venture into the field of ceramics, ultimately going to Italy for further training in the art before starting a ceramics studio in El Bireh, a town near Ramallah, in 1975. She created delicate bas-relief paintings and sculptures comprised of carved figures on kneaded clay over wooden surfaces. The compact size of her works and the intricate details reflected the sensitivity of her themes: family portraits, childhood memories, and landscapes depicting the rootedness of Palestinian identity. In general, Tamari chose to depict her main subjects using the natural hue of the clay, while she used warm colors to paint other motifs. For most of her stand-alone sculptures, Tamari drew inspiration from the woman’s body and the swaying trunks of olive trees. In addition to her work in ceramics, she produced landscape paintings in watercolor and ink, as well as abstract compositions with fabric collage depicting the resilience of the Palestinian woman.
In concurrence with and as part of the First Palestinian Intifada (1987-1993), Tamari, along with Sliman Mansour, Nabil Anani, and Tayseer Barakat, established The New Vision Movement. The four artists proposed a new approach in both form and context to what was known at the time as committed art, an art that served the cause of Palestinian liberation through conventional means and symbols. The New Vision Movement challenged artists to boycott any material imported from Israel, which included virtually all synthetic paints, dyes, and other commonly used art supplies. Instead, artists of the New Vision used natural material from their land to create inventive alternatives to the imports they had once relied upon. Tamari made her pottery clay, while other artists exploited leather, henna, mud, natural dyes, and wood.
At the time of the First Intifada, Palestinian universities did not have fine arts programs. In her capacity as an instructor at the Birzeit University, Tamari sought to remediate this gap; she promoted art by encouraging her students to explore and create paintings, drawings, and sculptures. She organized exhibitions in lecture halls and corridors and invited renowned artists such as Samia Halaby to collaborate in studio works. In 1994, she was assigned to oversee Dr. Tawfik Canaan’s ethnographic collection of amulets, and select artworks contributed by prominent international and Middle Eastern artists to the University. Tamari labored for nearly a decade in order to secure a permanent home for this collection, ultimately establishing The Birzeit University Ethnographic and Art Museum in 2005. She launched the museum with an inaugural exhibition she curated herself, entitled ‘Stateless Nation’ after the Palestinian contribution to the 2003 Venice Biennale. The artwork that inspired her, designed by Bethlehem-born Sandi Hilal and her Italian husband, Alessandro Petti, was made in the form of 10 seven-foot-high passports dispersed around the grounds of the famous exhibition.
In addition to the Birzeit museum, Vera Tamari created ‘The Paltel Virtual Gallery,’ a website for the promotion of contemporary Palestinian art, facilitating cultural exchange with Palestinians in the diaspora. This curatorial intervention marked a new period of experimentation, where Tamari began working in installation art and organizing creative exhibitions that introduced contemporary means of communication.
Tamari’s graceful activism and daring spirit were best exemplified in her 2002 installation Going for a Ride?, which reacted to Israel’s brutal destruction of hundreds of private cars in Ramallah. The artist requested that five of the crushed cars be polished and lined up on the road she created in a soccer field next to her house; adding to the “joyride” was a radio installation of popular music. During that same year, Tamari celebrated the endurance of the Palestinian people through her sculptural installation, Tale of a Tree (2002), which included 660 tiny clay trees and a photo transfer print on Plexiglas. At the time of this installation, Israeli forces were destroying olive groves en masse to make way for the construction of the Apartheid Wall: as the barrier separating Israel from the West Bank is known among Palestinians. She produced hundreds of small olive trees in clay as a healing act while uttering within: “For every uprooted tree, I will create a new one!” She painted her fragile trees in bright pastel colors as a gesture of hope.
Tamari has curated several significant exhibitions around the Palestinian cause, as well as others exploring the complex facets of Palestinian feminism. In 2009, she decided to move beyond the enclosed space of the museum into the public domain, founding ‘Cities Exhibition’ which coordinated a series of annual exhibitions in the university’s museum with events taking place in a selected city in the Occupied Territories. These exhibitions included public interventions, site-specific works, video installations, and performances voicing the Palestinian struggle and marking history that is frequently erased and eclipsed by dominant colonial narratives.
Vera Tamari still resides and works in Ramallah, Palestine.
Boullata, Kamal, and John Berger. Palestinian Art 1850-2005. London: Saqi, 2009.
"Birzeit University Museum: Unlike Other Springs." John Cage Organ Project in Halberstadt. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://universes.art/nafas/articles/2016/birzeit-university-museum/
"Ceramist: Vera Tamari." History of Cities and City Planning. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.art.net/~samia/pal/palart/vera/vera.html.
Dalrymple, William. "Palestine: A Culture under Fire." The Guardian. October 02, 2002. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2002/oct/02/art.artsfeatures.
Mother Jones. "Interview: Vera Tamari." Mother Jones. June 27, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.motherjones.com/media/2005/05/interview-vera-tamari/.
Murphy, Maureen Clare. "Moving Forward While Celebrating Palestinian Art's past." The Electronic Intifada. February 12, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/moving-forward-while-celebrating-palestinian-arts-past/16436.
"Vera Tamari – Station Museum of Contemporary Art." Station Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://stationmuseum.com/?page_id=2401
Qalandiyainternational. "The Phantom Dance. Remembering Ramallah under Jordanian Rule." QALANDIYA INTERNATIONAL. November 01, 2014. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://qalandiyainternational.tumblr.com/post/101477764831/the-phantom-dance-remembering-ramallah-under
"Framed / Unframed: Women Representations in Palestinian Art Practice." Exhibitions /2011 | Museum. September 19, 2011. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://museum.birzeit.edu/exhibitions/framed-unframed-women-representations-palestinian-art-practice.
"Framed – Unframed: 2nd Edition." Exhibitions /2011 | Museum. September 10, 2012. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://museum.birzeit.edu/exhibitions/framed-–-unframed-2nd-edition
"The Third Annual Cities Exhibition "Between Ebal and Gerzim"." Exhibitions /2011 | Museum. November 12, 2011. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://museum.birzeit.edu/exhibitions/third-annual-cities-exhibition-between-ebal-and-gerzim
"Unlike Other Springs: The Story behind Birzeit University Art Collection." Exhibitions /2011 | Museum. March 19, 2016. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://museum.birzeit.edu/exhibitions/unlike-other-springs-story-behind-birzeit-university-art-collection
"[Palestine] Vera Tamari / Yazid Anani (Eng)." YouTube. November 14, 2017. Accessed May 15, 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gF--BXCJi-4
"A Tale of Two Cities: Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project | Rachel Corrie Foundation." The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice. April 13, 2018. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://rachelcorriefoundation.org/projects/a-tale-of-two-cities-olympia-rafah-solidarity-mural-project.
"Olympia Rafah Mural." Olympia Rafah Mural RSS. Accessed May 17, 2018. http://olympiarafahmural.org/
"Vera Tamari, West Bank, Palestine." Olympia Rafah Mural RSS. Accessed May 17, 2018. http://olympiarafahmural.org/2010/03/30/vera-tamari-west-bank-palestine/
Murphy, Maureen Clare. "Birzeit's Virtual Gallery: The University's Latest Means of Cultural Exchange." The Electronic Intifada. February 12, 2017. Accessed May 17, 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/content/birzeits-virtual-gallery-universitys-latest-means-cultural-exchange/5580.
Mahdil, Maison. "Paltel Virtual Gallery, a Window on Palestinian Visual Arts |." Eng.babelmed.net. Accessed May 17, 2018. http://eng.babelmed.net/article/6997-paltel-virtual-gallery-a-window-on-palestinian-visual-arts/.
"Voices in the Singular Plural: Palestine C/o Venice and the Intellectual Under Siege." Jean Fisher. Accessed June 01, 2018. http://www.jeanfisher.com/voices-in-the-singular-plural-palestine-co-venice-and-the-intellectual-under-siege/.
"تشكيليون فلسطينيون (65) الفنانة فيرا تمارى." مؤسسة فلسطين للثقافة. Accessed May 15, 2018. http://www.thaqafa.org/site/pages/details.aspx?itemid=637#.Wmb06WUoWAM.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
Warriors Passed by Here, organized by Gallery One at the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Solo Exhibition, Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine
Solo Exhibition, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Selected Group Exhibitions
Challenges of Identity, Dar El Nimr, Beirut, Lebanon
Intimate Terrains: Representations of a Disappearing Landscape, The Palestinian Museum, Birzeit, Occupied Palestine
Subcontracted Nations, A. M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
There Is A Light That Never Goes Out, organized by Darat Al Funun, at the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center and Bab idDeir Art Gallery, Bethlehem, Occupied Palestine
Jerusalem Lives, Inaugural exhibition of the Palestinian Museum, the Palestinian Museum Birzeit, Occupied Palestine
Unlike Other Springs, Birzeit University Museum, Birzeit, Occupied Palestine
Rituals of Signs and Transitions (1975-1995), Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan
Qalandia International – Palestinian Biennial, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Framed /Unframed: 2nd Edition, Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Framed /Unframed: 1st Edition; Women Representations in Palestinian Art Practice, Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Made in Palestine, Station Museum of Contemporary Art, Houston, Texas, USA
Journey through the Contemporary Arts of the Arab World, Bilad al Sham, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan
New Vision Group, with Vera tamari, Suleiman Mansour and Tayseer Barakat, several exhibitions in Italy (Salerno), Jordan (Amman) & AL- Hakawati Theater (Jerusalem)
Forces of Change: Artists of the Arab World, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, USA
Seven Palestinian artists: Suleiman Mansour, Tayseer Barakat, Nabil Anani, Khalil Rabah, Jawad al Mahli, Yacoub al Kurd, and Vera Tamari, Darat al Funun, Amman, Jordan
Trial & Creativity" (Palestine): Nabil Anani, Suliman Mansour, Tayseer Barakat, and Vera Tamari, Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
Tallat: Palestinian Women’s Art Exhibition, Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine
The Third World Artists Exhibition, London, UK
Women Arab Artists, Baghdad, Iraq
Participation in Public Mural
Olympia - Rafah Solidarity Mural, Olympia, Washington, USA
Selected Exhibitions curated by Vera Tamari
Unlike Other Spring, curated by Vera Tamari, Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Framed / Unframed: 2nd Edition, curated by Vera Tamari and Inass Yassin, Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Framed /Unframed: 1st Edition; Women Representations in Palestinian Art Practice, curated by Vera Tamari and Inass Yassin, Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
The Third Annual Cities Exhibition: Between Ebal and Gerzim, curated by Vera Tamari and Yazid.In the city of Nablus, and at Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
The Second Annual Cities Exhibition: Ramallah the Fairest of them all? curated by Vera Tamari and Yazid Anani. In the city of Ramallah and at Birzeit University Art Museum, Birzeit, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
The First Annual Cities Exhibition: Jerusalem Our Home, curated by Vera Tamari.
In the city of Jerusalem and at Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Palestine.
Stateless Nation, curated by Vera Tamari - Birzeit University Art Museum, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine.
The Wasiti Art Center in Jerusalem, Palestine. Founded by Sliman Mansour, Tayseer Barakat, Nabil Anani, and Vera Tamari.
The League of Palestinian Artists
Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center
International Academy of Art, Palestine
The Birzeit University collection, Ramallah, Occupied Palestine
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman, Jordan
The Khalid Shuman Foundation: Darat Al Funun, Amman, Jordan
Dar El Nimr, Beirut, Lebanon
Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation (DAF), Beirut, Lebanon
Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE
Vera Tamari- artist
The Jerusalem Times, English, 1999
Going for a ride
ARTIST OF PALESTINE: VERA TAMARI
art net, English, 1998
Darat al funun, English/Arabic, 1996
Jericho Beyond the Celestial and Terrestrial
Birzeit University Museum, English/Arabic, 2012
Catalogue (exhibit curated by the artist)
A Review of the Book Palestinian Art
art net, English, 1998
Tamer Institute concludes the “Tales from Palestinian Art” project
A.M Qattan Foundation, English, 2019
Vera Tamari Going for a Ride
universes.art, English, 2009
تشكيليون فلسطينيون65 الفنانة فيرا تمارى
عبد الله أبو راشد
مؤسسة فلسطين للثقافة, Arabic
Vera Tamari / Yazid Anani
Association France Palestine Solidarité, French, 2017
Publication about artist's lecture
Palestine Vera Tamari Yazid Anani Rencontre
Mucem, French, 2017
Publication about artist's lecture
A Culture under Fire
The Guardian, English, 2016
A.M. Qattan Foundation honours the New Visions Collective
A M Qattan Foundation, English, 2018
التشكيلية ڤيرا تمار-: الفنان إنسان عاد- وليس استثناءً
24fm, Arabic, 2017
ورشة عمل في جامعة بيرزيت حول التخطيط لإقامة المتاحف وإدارة وتنسيق المعارض
maannews.net, Arabic, 2008
Véra Tamari : une oeuvre éphémère et gênante
Philistin.fr, French, 2013
"تامر" تطلق سلسلة قصص تحكي قصة فنانين فلسطينيين
alwatanvoice.com, Arabic, 2019
معرض برام الله يحيي الذاكرة الفلسطينية
alqudsnews.net, Arabic, 2013
"جرّة فيرا" .. مجرّات في منتدى الفنون البصرية
dipc.ps, Arabic, 2019
People wabt a cultural outlet': Lebaon's Dalloul Art Foundation launches digital archive amid coronavirus outbreak
The National, English, 2020
Interview: Vera Tamari
Mother Jones, English, 2005
Palestine: An Interview with Vera Tamari
arabcp.org, English, 2018
The Third Annual Cities Exhibition "Between Ebal and Gerzim"
Birzeit University Museum, English, 2011
Forces of Change: Artists of the Arab World
Alraidajournal.com, English, 1993
معرض في القدس يعيد التذكير برواد الفن التشكيلي الفلسطيني
Reuters, Arabic, 2009
The Jerusalem of Palestinian Artists
BAB, English, 2009
Jerusalem Our Home Special Exhibition
virtualgallery.birzeit.edu, English, 2009
القدس بيتنا)..معرض فني بخصوص المدينة المقدسة بين حربين)
Reuters, Arabic, 2009
لن أفارق أبداً معرض لحكايات الفنانين
emaratalyoum.com, Arabic, 2010
Artpalestine.org, English, 2009
Ramallah- the fairest of them all?
Vera Tamari & Yazid Anani
Universes in universe, English, 2010
qalandiyainternational.tumblr.com, English, 2014
فيرا تماري.. ذاكرة المحارب ومشاغله
alaraby.co.uk, Arabic, 2018
فيرا تماري... "وكم من محارب مرّ من هنا"؟
rommanmag.com, Arabic, 2019
Warriors Passed By Here
Artsy.net, English, 2019
Artist Imagines Palestine through conquest and female forms
Al Monitor, English, 2019
Warriors Passed By Here
This Week in Palestine, English, 2019
We are in Palestine, Habibi, and Palestine is Heaven
dissidentvoice.org, English, 2020