We are particularly concerned with how to teach contemporary art in a manner that addresses the historical, theoretical and practical breadth of the field, and that engages with local knowledge, geopolitical contexts and lived realities of Palestine.
The Academy is the only institution where students can study a specialized program of visual art education in Palestine, based on the Bologna system. While other programs exist in Palestinian universities, they follow a much more traditional model based particularly on the discipline of painting and are related to the training of art teachers for schools. It is important to note that historically there has been a significant absence of art schools in Palestine, and many artists were either self trained or study abroad to gain their knowledge before programs were established in universities in the late 1980s. Thus underlying the uniqueness of the Academy.
The BA program is interdisciplinary and provides a unique learning experience for students across painting, drawing, sculpture, 3D, installation, photography, video, performance and social intervention. Theoretical studies are specifically tailored to address the local context of Palestine within a larger framework of critical and historical studies. This profile provides a cornerstone for situating the students’ practice and enables them to engage in political, historical and art theoretical debates on a local and international platform. The program is a specialist study in visual art, emphasis is placed on the each student’s development of a research-based art practice. The program is centred around the mutual relationship between theory and practice. Our aim is to equip students with knowledge, skills and competence to be able to continue on to post-graduate study in the arts, practice as an independent artist or enter into employment in the local and regional creative industries.
The content of the program is international in scope, with emphasis on a rooted local, Palestinian perspective, which explores how global questions are relevant to a Palestinian context. The tutor-based teaching methods represent an innovative alternative to standard models of higher education in Palestine, in which students have the opportunity to have a wide range of exposure to the work on local and international and diaspora Palestinian artists, through workshops, seminars and one to one teaching.
Our graduates have become cultural ambassadors for Palestine, showing a different face to the dominant media imagery, through their personal stories and creativity. In 2015 IAAP will have graduated 30 students who have gone on to receive scholarships to study at International Art Institutions around the world such as Central and St. Martins, Cal Arts, Oslo National Academy of the Art, Toulouse Beaux Arts, Rijksakademie and Northwestern In addition students have gone on to participation in international Biennieles, art residencies as well as having gallery representation. They are able to use the skills and knowledge they acquire on our specialist program to speak on the world platform about Palestinian identity, memory, history and experiences, reaching hundreds of individuals through the visual language of art. In addition, the students from challenging economical and social backgrounds are able to open up new career paths for themselves, which has proven to have an important domino effect as they become new role models for the young men and women of their community working to advance the visual art sector locally and regionally.