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Nassar Bio

Photo by Roy Beeson.

Jordan Nassar’s hand-embroidered pieces address intersecting fields of craft, ethnicity and the embedded notions of heritage and homeland. Treating traditional craft more as medium than topic, Nassar examines conflicting issues of identity and cultural participation using geometric patterning adapted from symbols and motifs present in traditional Palestinian hand embroidery. Meticulously hand stitching colorful compositions across carefully mapped-out patterns, he roots his practice in a geopolitical field of play characterized by both conflict and unspoken harmony.


Nassar uses geometric patterns characteristic of Palestinian cross-stitch—most often found on pillows, clothing, and other domestic arts—to hand-embroider pictures that he stretches and frames, bringing this embroidery practice into a dialogue with painting. He grew up in a home decorated with such objects, which his father brought back from visits to his ancestral homeland and which now inspire his practice. Nassar has adapted the matrilineally learned tradition of Palestinian tatreez, utlizing symbolic, geographically specific hand-embroidery to mirror his hybridized upbringing. 


Nassar has created an important body of work in collaboration with craftswomen living and working in Ramallah, which juxtapose local traditions with Nassar’s contemporary aesthetic.  Beginning with a color palette of their own choosing on areas of the canvas predetermined by the artist, the craftswomen lay the foundations of his panoramas. Nassar then embroiders multicolored landscapes within the intricate geometric grids sewn by these women.  


The artist says of his landscapes, “I like to discuss these landscapes as versions of Palestine as they exist in the minds of the diaspora, who have never been there and can never go there. They are the Palestine I heard stories about growing up, half-made of imagination. They are dreamlands and utopias that are colorful and fantastical—beautiful and romantic, but bittersweet.”


Nassar's 2019 solo exhibition The Sea Beneath Our Eyes at the Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) Tel Aviv was an investigation of topics spanning geography, politics, and Orientalism, with particular attention being paid to the notions of diaspora and subsequent return as it relates to Biblical Israel and historical Palestine. Nassar transformed the first floor of the Center into a studio apartment in which every single item – from the biggest piece of furniture to the smallest knick-knack – was made in collaboration with local craftspeople in accordance to craftsmanship traditions that are currently found in the Holy Land: from Bedouin woven textiles to glassworks made in Hebron; from Hamsas made in Jaffa to woodwork made in Bethlehem; from baskets made by Ethiopian immigrants to ceramics made by the Armenian community. A catalogue, in the form of an inventory of all the exhibited items complete with technical descriptions in English, Hebrew, and Arabic, is forthcoming.  


Nassar is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at KMAC Museum in Louisville, Kentucky titled The Field Is Infinite, on view until April 4, 2021.  On display are a selection of embroideries, glass sculptures and Nassar’s immersive installation The Sea Beneath Our Eyes. 


Jordan Nassar (b.1985, New York, NY) earned his BA at Middlebury College in 2007. His work has been featured in solo and group exhibitions globally at institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; BRIC, Brooklyn, NY; Museum of Arts and Design, New York, NY; Abrons Art Center, New York, NY;  Katonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY; KMAC Museum, Louisville, KY; Anat Ebgi, Los Angeles, CA; Evelyn Yard, London, UK; Exile Gallery, Berlin, Germany, and The Third Line, Dubai, UAE. Nassar was the subject of two institutional solo presentations in 2019: Jordan Nassar: Between Sky and Earth at Art@Bainbridge at Princeton University Art Museum and The Sea Beneath Our Eyes at the Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) Tel Aviv. Nassar’s work is currently on view in the exhibition Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950 - 2019 at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Asia Society Triennial: We Do Not Dream Alone in New York. 

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