Model Role Details

Kanaan Kanaan

Kanaan Kanaan

Sector : Cultural Figures , Artists

Personal Info

  • Country of residence : United States
  • Gender : Male
  • Born in : 1965
  • Age : 51
  • Curriculum vitae :


Palestinian-American artist Kanaan Kanaan is a skilled painter and graphic designer who incorporates the two art forms to create the vivid, colorful tiles for which he has become known. Kanaan has showcased his work in 43 exhibitions and festivals nationally and internationally. His latest work, "Isholnak?" is a colorful piece which translates as "What's your color?" The piece is meant to "show the different colors, or sides, of the Arab culture politically, socially, and mentally." Kanaan was born in 1965 in a Palestinian refugee camp in Amman, Jordan. "I discovered that I was an artist during my early years," says Kanaan. "I would mix paint at my father's shop, which I found both fun and mesmerizing." He dreamed of formalizing his art education, and after briefly attending university in Algeria and Iraq, he moved to the U.S. searching for better opportunities. Kanaan moved to Portland, Oregon to study Fine Arts and Graphic Design at Portland State University where he now teaches courses in interactive media, including Web design and computer graphics. It was at Portland State where Kanaan tried to find common ground between his native culture and the new American culture he was learning about. After 9/11, he felt that his art would be the best vehicle for him to "open the door to Americans and welcome them to [his] culture. [He] hoped it would spark intellectual dialogue and understanding."

An earlier project, "Graceful Names," showcases the 99 names of God and was sparked by the mass misunderstanding of Muslims after 9/11 and after his visits to Palestine from 2000-2005. His visits, which Kanaan describes as "surreal," showed him how "inhumane the Zionist treatment of Palestinians is. It was astounding to see apartheid tactics used to control the Palestinians." He wanted to use this project to "educate Americans about Muslims and show that his understanding of God's attributes, such as God's mercy and might, were commonly believed throughout humanity. The goal was to find a uniting factor between all faiths." Mentoring young people at juvenile facilities is just as important to Kanaan as his art. He speaks with them "not as a psychologist, but as an artist. The community at large is seeing the impact of it." He also advises Middle Eastern students at Portland State University. He hopes that his mentorship "will help these students focus on their studies and take back what they have learned to better the future of their countries." Kanaan's goals go beyond outreach to his local community. "Ultimately, I just want to put a face on humanity," says Kanaan. "Arabs, Palestinians in particular, are being portrayed as heartless terrorists. We aren't like that. If we want to be a nation that promotes democracy and justice, it must be done across the board, no exceptions. This desire for justice seems to fall short when it comes to the Palestinians. I'm simply asking that the Palestinians be treated with dignity and respect like everyone deserves to be treated. They want jobs, bread on the table, and more importantly, a life of peace. Isn't that what we all want?"


Achievements and Awards

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