Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

Arts & Culture

Online Art Show, Conversation With Arab American Artists

Doris Bittar experimenting with some of her art patterns at the beach.
Doris Bittar
Doris Bittar experimenting with some of her art patterns at the beach.

ADC host Zoom webinar

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is hosting an online art show and conversation about Arab American contemporary art Thursday at noon. Doris Bittar is one of the artists featured.

Artist Doris Bittar has always been fascinated by patterns.

Online Art Show, Conversation With Arab American Artists
Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.

"I'm very deeply interested in a pattern as a lattice or a template or a grid, sort of attractive grid that tells a story about not only about itself but that presents itself as a structure for difficult conversation about history, colonialism, about how deeply has that colonialism affected our culture," Bittar said.


Being Arab-American, Bittar faces a lot of stereotypes and hopes she can address that through her art.

"I'm always wondering how to create a situation where conversation about issues out there that are of concern to Arab-Americans can be discussed, whether it's history, how peace can be forged and other sorts of stereotypes people have about the Arab world, that's always motivated my work," Bittar explained.

Zoom Webinar On Arab American Art

She is also president of the San Diego Chapter of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which is hosting Thursday's Zoom webinar.

"American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee is the largest, oldest civil rights organization for Arab Americans," Bittar said. "We defend all kinds of people. So we're having arts webinars. And tomorrow it is myself and Helen Zughaib, and author and historian Sarah Rogers, who will be moderating the discussion. Sarah is part Lebanese and she helped build the American Arab National Museum. And then Helen and I are both painters or started as painters."

Bittar noted that patterns can have aesthetic appeal but there is meaning beneath that.


"I'm really much more interested in its structure and its roots," she said. "Patterns overlap regions of the world. They overlap political boundaries, national boundaries. There's a lot of sharing when it comes to pattern. Almost all cultures use certain kinds of pattern and I often start with the patterns in the Arab world because they're very evolved. But I will spend years tracing and finding out where these patterns came from, how they migrated from Byzantium or China or India or Africa to converge in the Arab world at a time when the sciences and the arts were working together in a very connected and integrative way."

Even though her work may sometimes appear static there is a timing mechanism built-in and is affected by cultural influences.

"It's all culturally predisposed," she said. "I tend to look at the right side of everything. So then I'm going to read right to left [as you would in Arabic languages]. Now, if you had these concentric circles, the big circles on the right, that's first for me so I'm reading it from right to left, so the circles are diminishing. If you look at it from the left, which is where the English readers would be, the circles are getting bigger. It's going to give you a whole different perspective. So even though it's a still image, there's motion is involved."

ADC Presents: A Conversation with Arab American Artists Thursday at noon. Go to the ADC Facebook page for the link to register for the webinar that will be held via Zoom.