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Visions of Samia

Continue reading Climbing up a creaking wooden staircase, the visitor enters an all-white gallery-like space – even the floor is white – which contrasts with Halaby’s large colourful canvases. Like bursts of brightness caught in mid-air, intricate paper sculptures in lemon yellow, emerald, scarlet and gold hang from the ceiling. Halaby tells me that they […]

Writer

Inea Bushnaq

Photographer

Lara Atallah

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Palestinian-American abstract artist Samia Halaby moved into a former welding shop in Lower Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood in 1976, back when the now fashionable area was a desolate industrial zone dominated by 19th century warehouses. Doing most of the work herself, she transformed the dim, high-ceilinged, raw shell into a restful haven far removed from the noise and grime of the streets below. ‘There was an underground artists’ movement to congregate in that triangle because spacious lofts where we could work abounded. We lived in them semi-secretly, as they were then zoned for commercial use only. We used black window shades to block the lights at night. Our names were not on our doors and there were no doorbells. Our friends would yell up and we would throw a key down to them.’

I watch life on the street with aesthetic jealousy

This article appears in the issue41 Buy Now