Activities


Art Education in Palestine



17/2/2013

Beyond Resistance Art: Art Education in Palestine

During the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, the Member States voted to admit Palestine as the 195th Member of UNESCO on 31st October 2011. Although this change has led the United States to freeze its aid to Palestine, it is a significant step for the progress of education and culture in Palestine. As a newly formed Member State, very little is known about art education in Palestine and this article hopes to shed some light in this direction. When we think of art in relation to Palestine, we often think of Graffiti art on the Israeli Wall or other forms of art in relation to the political unrest between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli Wall, which annexes about fifty percent of the West Bank region in Palestine, is about 760 kilometers long and eight meters in height. Over the years, the Wall has evolved as an interesting site for ordinary people as well as artists from Palestine and elsewhere in the world, who make art on the wall to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people. Figures 1 and 2 are examples of artworks made by British Artist Banksy. These varied forms of artistic expression on the Wall have become popularly known as ‘Resistance Art’ in Palestine. 

From left to right: Figures 1 and 2 - Artworks by British artist Banksy

There is however more to art and culture in Palestine, beyond Resistance Art, and more to Palestinian life than what mainstream media generally portrays. Contrary to mainstream media’s biased portrayal of Palestinians as having negative attributes or only being faceless victims, there is more to the reality of life in Palestine.The Palestinian community has well established educational institutions, civil society organizations, infrastructure and opportunities for sports, and various forms of art practices that form an integral part of the daily life of the Palestinian people. These include literature, visual arts, folklore, music festivals, dance performances, theatre and film, as well as opportunities for education in the arts both in schools and in higher education institutions. Despite the continuous suffering of the Palestinians and daily violation of human rights under the occupation by Israeli military forces, which Palestinians and international human rights activists consider illegal, the Palestinian people's love for life and ability to find hope in the midst of despair and commitment to building the infrastructure for a viable state are what drives this vibrant and creative cultural and educational landscape. Figure 3 shows artists at the Diyar Dance Theatre performing their first