Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Mary Tuma

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Born in: 1961
  • Age: 55
  • Curriculum vitae :


Palestinian-American artist and art professor Mary Tuma has exhibited her work throughout the United States and in Palestine. 
Born in Oakland, CA in 1961, her interest in art began with her mother teaching her how to sew. "Growing up, my mom taught me to crochet and embroider," explains Tuma. "I was good at it, but I didn't think I could be an artist. I thought that was something geniuses did."
So Tuma went into design instead. She earned a BS in Costume and Textile Design from University of California - Davis. It was while earning her MFA in Visual Art at the University of Arizona - Tucson that Tuma began "making art as opposed to designing objects." 
Now an associate professor of Three-dimensional Art at the University of North Carolina - Charlotte, Mary Tuma is renowned for her compelling and transcendent installations. "I try to work from the first person," Tuma says. "My work tends to be very personal; I deal with small ideas rather than enormous ones. It really has to be something that I experienced and that I want to communicate. For me, it always goes back to women. First I'm human, then I'm woman, and then half Palestinian and half American."
Her work has been shown at the WomanMade Gallery and the ARC in Chicago, the AdaGallery in Richmond, VA, the Athens Institute for Contemporary Art in Athens, GA, the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Station Museum in Houston, TX. In 2007, her installation "Homes for the Disembodied" was shown at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, CA.
Tuma made "Homes for the Disembodied" while living in Palestine in 2000, preparing pieces for her solo exhibit at the Al-Wasiti Art Center in East Jerusalem. "While working on another piece, I heard many stories about refugees in the West Bank who died before ever being able to come back to Jerusalem," she says. "I created these dress forms so that those who couldn't go back would have a place to dwell when they eventually returned."
For her next work, Tuma is planning to look at refugeeism. "I think there is something about refugeeism and displacement that all Palestinians feel and I'm very interested in that topic." Along those lines, she hopes to return to Bethlehem's Aida refugee camp where she conducted an art project with children there.


Achievements and Awards

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