Rana Samara (born 1985, Jerusalem) is a Palestinian artist and a graduate of the International Art Academy, Ramallah (2015).

Samara’s current body of work – Intimate Space – explores societal norms, sexuality, gender roles, and other factors associated with modern Palestinian life. Her work focuses on the less obvious factors that underpin the daily lives of women who reside in overcrowded refugee camps and rural communities – women whose lives continue to be blighted both by conservative traditions and the exigencies of life under occupation.

Focusing on marital intimacy, Samara demystifies many social taboos and translates these onto large, bold and colorful canvasses that are both remarkable social statements and beautiful artistic constructs. Frank conversations with women form the backbone of her work that transcends the private space into the realm of the public. Often depicting the aftermath of sexual encounters, Samara’s paintings are remarkable visual metaphors of the lives of Palestinian women existing in restricted environments, cramped and constrained by internal traditions and by external forces.

Samara is a highly inquisitive, courageous and determined woman. These characteristics propelled her – in the first place – to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art as a mother of three children from a conservative background. Her passion for art and formidable determination has led her to pursue further studies and she is currently undertaking a two-year MA in Fine Art and Theory at Northwestern University, Chicago, while being estranged from her family.

Samara has participated in exhibitions in Palestine and UAE.


In Rana Samara ’s Intimate Space we witness what appears to be a typical domestic scene, but on closer inspection small details reveal telling clues – lingerie peeks out from beneath rumpled sheets, belts hang from the bedstead, a half-used pack of Viagra lingers – signs which tell a story of what has gone before, the desultory evidence of intimacy. These bedrooms are familiar domestic spaces, but in Samara’s paintings they are transformed into repositories of social neuroses and taboos that the artist both seeks to scrutinise and demystify. Virginity. Intimacy. Sexual desire. Gender. Social norms. These issues, so pertinent in both the female realm and the society at large, are often hidden, unexplored or even dismissed at an artistic level in the context of a nation still struggling under years of military occupation.

Her artwork affirms the feminist conviction that the personal is the political. Intimate spaces are translated into large-scale canvases, and continuous frank conversations with women become the backbone of her work, transcending the private sphere and placing it in the realm of the public. Samara’s work challenges these notions of not only what women can discuss but what issues are valid in society as she invites the viewer to intrude in the daily lives and experiences of women towards greater empathy and understanding.