Close to Home: Celebrating California’s Arab American Art 

Image: Remember – Forgive (2009) [detail], ink and rubber stamped ink on paper, by John Halaka.
Above: Folding Linens Araby (2000) [detail], oil on linen, by Doris Bittar.

May 31 – June 28, 2015
House of Lebanon
4800 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010

When AANM opened its doors 10 years ago, its inaugural exhibition In/Visible presented the works of Arab American artists addressing concepts of identity and place. We are now pleased to bring this ongoing conversation between art and Arab identity to southern California with Close to Home: Celebrating California’s Arab American Art as part of the Museum’s 10th anniversary year.

Presented in collaboration with the Lebanese American Foundation – House of Lebanon, this exhibition is the latest in a series of cultural programs AANM has sponsored in southern California with the Southern California Friends of AANM.

This collaboration to promote the art of talented Arab Americans based in southern California — John Halaka, Doris Bittar, and Olfet Agrama — is another opportunity to shine a spotlight on the many contributions of our community.

John Halaka is a painter, documentary filmmaker and professor of visual arts at the University of San Diego, whose work explores issues of exile, resistance and identity construction. His Landscapes of Desire collection was on exhibit in 2013 at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Mich. Halaka, who received his M.F.A. from the University of Houston, is a Palestinian American who was born in El Mansoura, Egypt, in 1957.

Doris Bittar is a multi-disciplinary artist who closely follows history and intertwines it with pattern and decorative structures. In part, her art tests a pattern’s veracity to see if it may act as an identifying unit of culture, which she calls cultural DNA. Born in Baghdad, Iraq of Lebanese parents, Bittar received a Masters of Fine Arts at the University of California, San Diego in 1993, and began to exhibit, teach and write. Bittar currently teaches in the Visual Arts department at California State University, San Marcos.

Olfet Agrama was born in Cairo, Egypt and lived there for the first 25 years of her life. At the age of 14 she started taking private lessons in art from an Italian academic artist. Leaving Egypt, she immigrated to the United States and earned a master’s degree in English Literature from the University of California. Agrama lived in Lebanon for four years, in Italy for eight years, in England, and Spain. At the moment, she divides her time between Los Angeles and Paris. She just published her first novel entitled At The Crossroad.


Made possible in part by

  • May 31, 2015 - June 28, 2015