Yara Chaalan

Yara Chaalan


"Four years ago I was reborn – not in the religious sense. I walked into my university art class and suddenly, I could communicate with clarity, understand, and be understood, I was able to convey the depth of my being, visually, through painting and art. I gave myself permission to reveal my soul on canvas and yet for the first twenty-one years of my existence, I had hidden from fear and insecurity. My dyslexia not only manifests in my artwork, but I channel it to honor the part of me which it is – and challenge everything else to awaken and heighten”. Yara Chaalan, Artist

My arts education over the past four years at the Lebanese American University was not only defining but moreover, transformational and arguably, life-saving for me. The experience not only develops a firm foundation in the arts, but inspired my collective courage, and confidence. Admittedly and candidly, my range of art grew tremendously during college. Before such, I’d often felt out of place, never really excelling in any particular domain. I grew up in a very loving and supportive home, the middle child between talented and encouraging sisters, yet struggled with Attention Deficiency Disorder and Dyslexia. Growing up, chiefly at school, I often felt inadequate and school was more like a battleground than a safe place of learning. Words often failed me or were inadequate to express my thoughts and feelings. When I started college, I gravitated towards the arts and took courses that began erasing confusion and replacing it with clarity. There are endless ways to create art, and unlimited imaginations are brought to life challenging traditional narratives and interpretations. Art is a domain where I am finally able to express myself without feeling limited by my literary capacities.

While I was born in the US, I have grown up in Beirut which is a large city, thereby interactions with nature felt scarce. But on the weekends, like most Lebanese people, our family would travel to the mountainside. There, I was surrounded by not only my loved ones, but incredible nature, and my senses would be stimulated by the abundance of color, sounds, and silence, solitude, and company. Even in my paintings which do not have elements of nature, there is a clear use of color, inspired by the greenery and landscapes. In some sense, I believe mastering abstract art is a way to confront my previous insecurities and confusion. My work is inspired by Matisse, Cézanne, and Manet amongst others. I’m particularly inspired by Matisse’s earlier work and how his fauvist style used expressive and bright colors. The vibrancy of color is an apparent and recurring theme in a great deal of my work. I am also drawn to feminist art and work daily to bring homage to it. I’m a big fan of Egyptian artist Ghada Amer and her embroidery representation of sexuality and gender. The theme struck a chord with me and drew me into that kind of contemporary work.

The many experiences I have had inside galleries, art studios, and various art projects not only drove greater creative force, but were instrumental in teachings, collaborations, and encouragement to continue elevating and uplifting myself, but moreover, others along my journey.

I believe that my struggle with dyslexia does not define nor limit me. I have always been a proponent of the belief that life is not so much what happens to you, but moreover what happens for you and what you make happen. Through my unique interpretations of life, I leverage the challenges to overcome, connect with others and grow with art, for art and in art I dream of leaving a signature that will come to be known as my trademark; Yara’s work.

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