Cancellation of Samia Halaby's Exhibition

The planned exhibition of Palestinian artist Samia Halaby at Indiana University was canceled, despite the artist's intense struggle. At 87, Halaby speaks from New York, mentioning that over 14,000 signatures were collected to reinstate the show. The reason for the cancellation, according to Halaby, might be related to her pro-Palestinian content on Instagram.

The exhibition, prepared for three years with curator Elliot Reichert, was supposed to open on February 10. However, museum director David Brenneman informed Halaby of the abrupt cancellation, citing fears for the safety of the artworks.

Halaby, who has lived in the US since 1951 after fleeing Palestine, expressed surprise at the growing support of young Americans for Palestine. Her work, rooted in both American Abstract Expressionism and politically engaged, deals with relationships between people, states, and power in society.

The reaction to the exhibition's cancellation has been strong, with many supportive calls and emails, particularly from students. Despite this, the exhibition "Samia Halaby: Eye Witness" is scheduled at MSU Broad Art Museum and is expected to open on June 29. This exhibition and the accompanying catalogue will represent a major contribution to the study of Halaby's work.

Samia Halaby is a renowned Palestinian artist, recognized for her role in the Abstract Expressionism movement. Born in Jerusalem in 1936, Halaby was displaced with her family in 1948 during the Nakba, eventually settling in the United States. Her work is known for its vibrant, abstract compositions, often inspired by her Palestinian heritage and experiences. She incorporates elements of geometric abstraction and color field painting, exploring the interplay of color, shape, and space. Beyond her artistic achievements, Halaby is also a vocal advocate for Palestinian rights and cultural heritage. Her artworks are featured in various international collections, including in the Arab world, where she has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years. During the Covid lockdown, there was a renewed interest in her digital abstractions, a previously lesser-known aspect of her work. This has contributed to a broader understanding of her artistic range.