Doris Bittar

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 Exhibitions:

  • 2013. 25 Years of Arabic Creativity. Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, France.
  • 2013. Infinite Mirror, Venues: Lowe Art Museum, Coral Gables, Florida
  • 2012. Tec Tang Tarab. Arab American National Museum. Dearborn, Michigan, USA
  • 2012. Museum of Art, Indiana, University of Maryland University College, Adelphi, Maryland, USA
  • 2012. Thorne‐Sagendorph Gallery, Keene State College, New Hampshire, UK
  • 2011. Political Patterns. IFA Gallery (Institute for Foreign Cultural Exchange), Stuttgart.
  • 2011. IFA Gallery, Berlin, Germany.
  • 2011. Syracuse University Art Galleries, Syracuse, New York. USA
  • 2011. Aftermath, 25th Alexandria Biennale for Mediterranean Countries, Alexandria Museum of Fine Arts, Egypt
  • 2010. Tec Tang Tarab, Leveled: An Interactive Experiment in Art, California Center for the Arts, Escondido, California, USA
  • 2009. Sharjah Biennial 9. Sharjah Museum of Art, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (March 22‐ May 22)
  • 2008. Soap Story: Ravenna and Beirut, Ninapi Gallery, Ravenna, Italy (March 22 – May 2).
  • 2008. Doris Bittar, Qisas Al Finjan/Coffee Stories, Athenaeum, Music & Arts, La Jolla, California, USA (Feb. 16– Mar. 22).
  • 2007. Stripes and Stars, Paintings by Doris Bittar, Frank Pictures Gallery, Santa Monica, California, USA (Oct. 14 – Nov. 14).
  • 2007. Jusour Wa Kusour: Doris Bittar 1989‐2007 Retrospective, Oceanside Museum, California, USA (February 11 – April 1).
  • 2007. Piece Process 4: After Lebanon, Hartnett Gallery, Univ. of Rochester, Rochester, New York, USA (March 22 – April 22).
  • 2005. In/Visible: Contemporary Art by Arab Americans, Arab American Nat’l Museum, Dearborn, MI (May 19‐Oct. 30).
  • 2004. Somewhere Elsewhere, Worth Ryder Gallery, Univ. of California, Berkeley, USA (October 19 – November 28).
  • 2000. The Wandering Ishmael. David Zapf Gallery, San Diego, California, USA (November 16 – December 15).
  • 1999. Lebanese Linen, Doris Bittar, David Zapf Gallery, San Diego, California, USA (January 15 ‐ February 13).
  • 1996. Substituting “Rasquachismo for Mimesis,” spot, New York, New York, USA (Sept. 20–Oct. 19).
  • 1996. Whitney Museum of American Art, Independent Study Program exhibit, New York, New York, USA (June 8,).
  • 1995. Artists' View: the Arab World, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon, USA (September 7 – October 20).
  • 1995. Colectiva Binacional 2 en 1, Centro Cultural Mexicali y Tijuana, April/May, Mexicali B. C., Tijuana, B. C. Mexico.
  • 1994. Ornamental Subjects, Fullerton Gallery, Fullerton College, Fullerton, California, USA (March 29 – April 21).
  • 1993. Under the Sun of the West, Alternative Museum, New York, New York, USA (September 29 ‐ November 20).

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