Doris Bittar



Installation, Painting

Doris Bittar

Born in Iraq
Lives and works in USA

I am a multi-disciplinary artist who closely follows history and intertwines it with pattern and decorative structures. In part, my art tests a pattern's veracity to see if it may act as an identifying unit of culture, which I call cultural DNA.  Also, because the word “decorum” is related to the word ”decoration,” I wonder if decoration may be a code for behavior, for how a room should be organized to spur dialogue? Could pattern and decoration be animated into lattices or structures that guide and bridge?

I was born in Baghdad, Iraq of Lebanese parents. A year later my parents returned to Lebanon. Just ahead of the Lebanese civil war, we immigrated to New York. I graduated from a high school that imprinted me with a curiosity to bridge differences between people. After graduating with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from the State University of New York at Purchase I worked as a union organizer for five years. My husband and I settled in southern California where we have raised two sons. My Arabic identity began to reveal itself and influence my art making as significant events in the Middle East unfolded - seemingly without respite. I received my Masters of Fine Arts at the University of California, San Diego in 1993, and began to exhibit, teach, and write. In 2005 we moved to Beirut during dramatic political shifts. I currently teach in the Visual Arts department at California State University San Marcos, travel to gather the “stuff” for new projects, work with civil rights organizations, and write.


1996 - 1995. Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program
1993. University of California, San Diego (Master of Fine Arts)
1981. State University of New York at Purchase (Bachelor of Fine Arts)

Selected Awards, Honors & Grants:

2011, 2007. Puffin Foundation Grant Recipient
2010. Alexandria Biennale Award, Alexandria, Egypt
2007. University of California San Diego Faculty Grant
1998. California Arts Council Artists Fellowship Grant

Selected solo exhibition:

2019. Visible Migration Patterns, solo March 25 – April 25 El Camino College, Torrance, CA
2015. Cryptographic, solo, Sep 21–Oct 20, Al Quds Gallery, Jerusalem Fund solo, Wash, DC.
2014. Encoded Diasporas, Oct 15–Nov 15, Mesa College solo, San Diego, CA
2014. Between the Stripes, solo University of California, Santa Barbara Multicultural Center, April 9– June 13, Santa Barbara, CA
2010. Tec Tang Tarab, solo, Leveled: An Interactive Experiment in Art, Aug 14–Dec 31, California Center for the Arts solo, Escondido, CA
2008. Soap Story: Ravenna and Beirut, Khaldiyeh’s River Rocks and Stripes and Stars, solo Ninapi Gallery, March 22 – May 2, 2008, Ravenna, Italy
2008. Doris Bittar, Qisas Al Finjan/Coffee Stories, Photographs, Video and Wall Installation, solo, Athenaeum, Music & Arts Library solo, Feb. 16– March 22, La Jolla, CA
2007. Stripes and Stars, Paintings by Doris Bittar, Frank Pictures Gallery, solo, Bergamot Station, Oct 14 Nov 14, Santa Monica, California
2007. Jusour Wa Kusour: Doris Bittar 1989-2007 Retrospective, solo, Feb 11–April 1, Oceanside Museum, Oceanside, California
2006. Uncle Hanna’s Electric Heart and Other Stories of Resistance solo, Southwestern College Gallery, Oct 12–Nov 2, Chula Vista, California
2006. Kul Shay/All Things: Photographs of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, solo, Jan 11–Feb 11, David Zapf Gallery, San Diego, California
2004. Semites, (Drawing Installation) Gotthelf Gallery, solo, The Jacobs Family Jewish Community Center, San Diego, Dec 3, 2003 – Feb 15, La Jolla, CA
2000. The Wandering Ishmael: New Paintings by Doris Bittar, solo, Nov 16–Dec 15, 2000, David Zapf Gallery, San Diego, California
1999. Lebanese Linen, Doris Bittar, solo, Jan 15-Feb 13, David Zapf Gallery, San Diego, CA
1993. Under the Sun of the West, Sep 29–Nov 20, 1993, The Alternative Museum solo, New York, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions:

2020. Mashrabiya, Dina Abdulkarim, Doris Bittar, Joyce Dallal, Sherin Guirguis, forthcoming April 4 - May 2, South Los Angeles Art Gallery (SoLA Gallery), Los Angeles, California
2020. Art is Not Optional Al Kuds Gallery, January 24 – March 13, Washington, DC
2019. Wall to Wall, Joyce Dallal & Doris Bittar, August 23–September 2, Dysfunctional Theater Collective, Governors Island, New York, NY
2018. Storming the Wall, Todd Ayoung, Doris Bittar, Melissa Smedley, July 1 - July 7, Center for Art on Migration Politics – CAMP, Roskilde Festival, Copenhagen, Denmark
2018. An Open Eye on the Arab World - Exquisite Corpse, Sep 29-April, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France
2017. Dar’a, March/April, Artcite Gallery, Windsor, Ontario, Canada
2016. Before the Court, Sep 23 – Nov 2, Nadežda Petrović Art Museum, Čačak Serbia,
2015. 56th Venice Biennale, The Arena, “A New Wave of Arts Activism?” August 5,  Venice, Italy.
2014. Women, War, and Industry, San Diego Museum of Art, October 19, 2013 to February 18, San Diego, California
2011 /2013. Infinite Mirror, sponsored by consortium of private and public organizations. Toured to 17 cities and 12 states throughout the United States.
2012. 25 Years of Arabic Creativity, Oct 16–Feb 3, Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France July 1–Sep 10, 2013, National Museum, Bahrain. Apr. 2 –Jun 10, 2013, Naila Art Gallery, Ryad, Saudi Arabia. March 5 – March 31, 2013, Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
2011. Political Patterns, curator Sabine Vogel, Jul 7 – Oct 3, ifa Gallery (Institute for Foreign Cultural Exchange/Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen), Berlin, Germany
2011. Floor to Ceiling, July 9 – August 17, Nabad Art Gallery, Amman, Jordan
2009/2010 Aftermath, 25th Alexandria Biennial for Mediterranean Countries, Alexandria Museum of Fine Arts, December 15 – January 30, Alexandria, Egypt
2009. Trade Show, July 1-30, Edgar Varela Fine Arts-Los Angeles- August 10-16, Ankara Mithatpasa Sanat Galerisi-Ankara-, Eskisehir, 2009, Galeri Iskik-Istanbul, Turkey, 2010.
2009. Sharjah Biennial 9, Provisions for the Future Patterns of Sharjah: Four-Part Installation: Paths to the Persian Market,” Geography Lesson,” and “A Pearl Divers’ Tale” video installation March 22- May 22, Sharjah Museum of Art, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
2008. Piece Process 6: All Walls Must Fall, Sept – Nov, Pomegranate, New York, NY
2007. Piece Process 6: After Lebanon, September – Nov, Portland Art Center, Portland, OR
2006. Terror, September 11 - November 11, Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco CA
2006. Prologue and Epilogue: Arab Feminism Past and Present, May 5 – May 7, The Blue Studio, Sponsored by Sunbula Women, San Francisco, California
2005. In/Visible: Contemporary Art by Arab American Artists, Inaugural Exhibition, May 19-Oct. 30, The Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, Michigan
2004. Somewhere Elsewhere, October 19 – November 28, Worth Ryder Gallery, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, California
2003. Sheherazade: Risking the Passage, El Colegio Gallery, Feb 12-Mar 15,  Minneapolis, MN
2002. Peace Show, Kentler Gallery, December 8 – December 28, Brooklyn, New York
2002. Magician’s Day Off and Other Stories, Euphrat Museum of Art, De Anza College, February 26 –April 18, Cupertino, California
1996. Substituting “Rasquachismo for Mimesis” Doris Bittar, Mariam Ishaque, Fatimah Tuggar, September 20 - October 19, spot, New York, New York
1996. Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program exhibit, June New York, New York
1994. Colectiva Binacional 2 en 1, Centro Cultural Mexicali, April/May 1994, Mexicali B. C. Mexico

Selected Reviews ‐ Books, Articles, Interviews:

•2011. Jakob Rondthaler “unter dem gesichelten Mond,” der Freitag, September 9, Berlin
2011. Nafas Kuntsmagazin, “Political Patterns – Ornament im Wandel,” July.
2011. Sabine Vogel, “Beauty and Terror, Conflicts and Controversies: Ornament Today,” Political Patterns/Ornament im Wandel, exhibition catalog. Institute for Foreign and Cultural Affairs, Berlin and Stuttgart, Germany, July
2010. Carol Bardenstein, “Arab and/or Arab American? Questions of the Transnational in Works by Doris Bittar, Sama al‐Shaibi, and Diana Abu Jaber” presented at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, RAWI Conference, June.
2009. Salwa Mikdadi, Nada M. Shabout, Hossein Amirsadeghi (Editors), New Visions: Arab Contemporary Art and the Twentyfirst Century, Thames & Hudson, London, England.
2008. Farhat, Maymanah, “Arab‐American Art: Identity, Cultural Expression, and Politics,” Contemporary Practices: Visual Arts From The Middle East, December.
2007. Arida, Holly, Etching Our Own Image: Voices from Within the Arab American Art Movement, Oxford University College Professors Press, Oxford, England.
2007. Pincus, Robert, “Bridging the Divide: Doris Bittar’s work in ‘Jusour wa Kusour’ Straddles Cultures, San Diego UnionTribune, March 15.
2006. Dakhlia, Jocelyne, Créations artistiques contemporaines en pays d’Islam: des arts en tensions, October, Dime Publication, Paris, France.
2005. Amal Sorany, Clientele, “A Vision of Intertwined Cultures”, November.
2005. Salwa Mikdadi. “In/Visible: Contemporary Art by Arab American Artists,” Exhibition Catalogue. Arab American National Museum.
2005. Maymanah Farhat, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “IN/VISIBLE Exhibition Inaugurates Arab American National Museum”, August.
2004. Kuo, Laura, “Traces of Exile, Somewhere Elsewhere: Homage to Edward Said, XTRA Volume 7, Issue 3, September.
2004. Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle, “Arabs. Muslims. How does the West see them? Artists use bold strokes to penetrate stereotypes”, October 23.
2003. Saidi, Janet, Los Angeles Times, “Art Shows Arabs, Jews Reaching Out”, Sunday, February 2.
2002. Nashashibi, Salwa, “American‐Arab Artists: Multiculturalism in America”, in Displacement and Difference, ed. Fran Lloyd, London: Saffron Press.
2001. Pincus, Robert L., “Review of Doris Bittar’s ‘The Wandering Ishmael’” Art in America, April.
1999. Qabazi, Ghalia, “British Contact with the ‘Other’ Through the Works of Women Artists,” Al Hayat, London, England and Beirut, Lebanon, May 17.
1998. Zuhur, Sherifa, Images of Enchantment: Performing and Visual Arts of the Middle East, American University of Cairo Press and University of Florida Press.

Selected Collections:

Arab American National Museum, Dearborn, Michigan, USA
Bank of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Aarab Emmirates
Athenaeum Music & Art Library, La Jolla, California, USA
California Center For the Arts, Escondido, California, USA
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, California, USA
Russell Sage Foundation, New York, USA