Rana Samara (born 1985, Jerusalem) is a Palestinian artist and a graduate of the International Art Academy, Ramallah (2015). Samara grew up in a typical Palestinian family. In her words: “I spent most of my childhood and teenage years observing and analyzing social and gender relations. I came to understand how precious, yet also suffocating women’s roles as carers and nurturers can be.”
Samara’s current body of work – Intimate Space – explores societal norms, sexuality, gender roles, and other factors associated with modern Palestinian life. Her work focuses on the less obvious factors that underpin the daily lives of women who reside in overcrowded refugee camps and rural communities – women whose lives continue to be blighted both by conservative traditions and the exigencies of life under occupation.
Focusing on marital intimacy, Samara demystifies many social taboos and translates these onto large, bold and colorful canvasses that are both remarkable social statements and beautiful artistic constructs. Frank conversations with women form the backbone of her work that transcends the private space into the realm of the public. Often depicting the aftermath of sexual encounters, Samara’s paintings are remarkable visual metaphors of the lives of Palestinian women existing in restricted environments, cramped and constrained by internal traditions and by external forces.
Samara has participated in a number of exhibitions including Contemporary Istanbul, Turkey, 2019; Art Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2019; Beirut Art Fair, Lebanon, 2017; and Art Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2017. In addition to several local solo exhibitions in Ramallah and Jerusalem.
She investigates the social contexts of sexuality in which she draws inspiration predominantly from personal encounters with women she meets: “I have intimate and continuous conversations with them about virginity, intimacy, sexual desire, gender norms, their convictions and relationships and roles vis à vis the younger generations and these conversations form the cornerstone of my research.” Samara’s works span across diverse mediums such as film, video, installation, and embroidery but her current focus is large-scale paintings. Samara graduated in 2015 from the International Academy of Art in Ramallah.