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Artist / Maria Saleh Mahameed

Maria Saleh Mahameed


Born in Umm al-Fahm in 1990.

An artist who works with painting, installation and engraving.

Saleh Mahameed is known for her use of charcoal, which she uses to paint on large canvases which she spreads out on her studio floor. Charcoal, which is linked to her identity with her hometown ("Umm al-Fahm," meaning "Mother of Charcoal"), is a dominant and uncompromising material. It leaves residue, stains, and clear traces on her and on the surface of the fabric.

A significant and meaningful part of her creative process is capturing those charcoal stains while constructing the narrative of the painting. During the act of painting, she draws her body and thoughts inward, moving in different ways across the canvas, and so becomes an integral and primitive part of the work. The evidence, the traces left during the creative process, whether they are her hand or footprints, or the tracks of household pets, remain as expressive and spontaneous marks on the fabric.

Saleh Mahameed has a complex national and religious identity, as the daughter of a Ukrainian mother and an Arab father. Her works provide her with a means to explore personal, social, and political issues related to her family as well as Palestinian society. Although her works are large in size, they appear as intimate scrolls consisting of several parts, unfolding personal and familial stories.


Saleh Mahameed often engages with themes of life and death, peace alongside violence within Arab society, and her complex identity that connects her childhood hometown of Umm al-Fahm to her mother's birthplace, Kiev, and which is always present in the search of "what keeps me alive."


In the Art on the Road project, Saleh Mahameed delicately but significantly deals with her identity. The inspiration for the truck painting comes from the period of New Year's Eve 2023. On one side of the truck, she painted an olive tree and decorated it with prickly pear branches  (instead of the traditional Christmas tree).

The olive tree was intentionally chosen in consideration of its complex essence and identity as a symbol: the tree of peace, a tree that represents belonging and attachment to heritage and homeland, and a legendary tree that lives eternally. The symbol of the prickly pear was used out of similar considerations.


On the other side of the truck, she painted a self-portrait as a pregnant woman surrounded by images from both cultures that make up her life. Pregnancy is a symbol of abundance, blessing, joy, hope, and fruitfulness.


Maria Saleh Mahameed holds a B.Ed. in arts and art education from Oranim College, a Teaching Certificate for Gifted and Talented Students, and a M.Ed. in arts from Oranim College. She teaches at Beit Berl College, Hamidrasha. Her works appear in the collections of the Tel Aviv Museum, the Israel Museum, and the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art. She is the recipient of the Rappaport Prize for Promising Young Artists, awarded by the Tel Aviv Museum (2023), the Kolliner Prize for Young Artists, awarded by the Israel Museum (2022), the Excellence Award and scholarship in the final exhibition of Oranim College art graduates (2017), and the Young Artist Award in the Plastic Arts, awarded by the Hecht Museum, University of Haifa (2015).

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