Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeanette Habash.
Jeanette, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
As a child I was surrounded by many images. I come from a big Palestinian family and photographs of family members were everywhere. Iconography, visually, was an influence on me as well. I grew up in the Orthodox Church and tempera paintings of saints were plastered on the walls.
During high school, art classes were extremely important. I was the girl that brought her projects home in a brown box and paint brushes every day to bring them to completion. I even skipped lunch periods to spend time in the art room (no regrets). My high school art teacher always encouraged me and saw my dedication to art making. It wasn’t until I started college that I began to see art making as a career path. I had my formal education at North Park University where I majored in Fine Arts graduating in 2017. In my experience at North Park I began to have a fuller sense of who I was and could be. I began to shift my thinking from “I’m going to school to find a job” to “I’m in this place to find my purpose in the world”. I became engaged in every course I took; painting, creative writing, history, philosophy. I wanted to understand my thinking through the academics. It was from the unwavering guidance of my professors that I saw my potential and gained confidence in the possibilities for myself and my work. Their investment in me was truly valuable. Through that, I took a great lead in in the classroom. I enjoyed listening to my colleges, to understand their projects and help bring their projects to fruition. I felt I could help others create artwork with my talents. I knew that I yearned to help the individual growth of others through teaching.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I begin making work by asking questions. Most of these questions stem from my identity as a Palestinian-American and Christian artist: What is painting? What is history, and how can it be embodied in painting? How does memory function in our daily lives and art making? How do these concepts relate to my Palestinian experience? My process starts with some sketch or smaller drawing that turns into a bigger painting project. These drawings are often inspired by old black and white photographs, or photos I’ve taken of family members over the years. Identity, memory, cultural history, and family, are the overarching themes that come to the surface. I often read books and articles to support the work academically.
The Nakba (The Catastrophe) of Palestinians in 1948 was the main historical focus of my visual work. I intended to remember and document those of a lost history. I saw this as a way to bring awareness to a history that is rarely spoken about in the grand scheme of American education. Visually, my work is grungy, and figures are not rendered realistically. Some paintings are faded or compiled with texture and rough paint strokes. Then there are drawings that are expressive and feel endured. It is through those visual qualities that I aim to communicate the story of a people.
I spent a majority of my work grappling with the “past”. While I’m still curious about that past, I’ve turned my focus on personal narratives of my own history. I spend a majority of my time with family. I become intrigued by familial relationships, such as my father and his mother, myself and my grandma, and myself and my siblings. I find that I’m most interested in painting people who are close and have a direct relationship to me. I want people to know that making art work is not just paint on a surface. It’s a record of thinking in the world. Art is an investigation and there is more to understand beyond the visual surface.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
Success, is allowing yourself to push past your fears and live up to your potential. Fear is the opportunity for individual growth. I have a difficult relationship to the word “success” because of what society tells you what success is. Success for me is using your talent for the growth of others. If you believe in your heart that you are pursuing something that is deeply meaningful, then that is a success in life. It’s not about money, it’s not about things, it’s about doing what is right and just in this world and using your talents toward that motive. That requires hard work ethic, kindness, seeking truth, and the belief that you are more than capable to tackle life. Yes, we all have bad days when we doubt ourselves, but we must keep in mind that we have something good to offer this world. We should use it, and we are better for it.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
I have a website www.jeanettehabash.com where I post writing and completed projects. I do post updates and in process photos of projects on my Instagram:
I’m currently showing work in Champaign, IL at the Giertz Gallery, now until August 8th. Check it out if you’re in the area! You can support by following and keeping updated with all of my endeavors. You can also purchase original work or commission a project. Just drop me an email! I designed a book of my work. Click this link and you can purchase it!
- Website: www.jeanettehabash.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @_jeanetteh
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/jhabashart
- Other: http://www.blurb.com/b/8022575-jeanette-habash-paintings-drawings2016-2017