Why Draw Flowers?

Botanical Art, Nationalism and Women's Contribution to Israeli Culture

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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  • 1 Zefat Academic College smarnin@gmail.com
  • 2 Haifa University ednagorney@yahoo.com
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Botanical art and illustration, presented alongside scientific descriptions, were at the heart of Jewish national projects during the British Mandate in Palestine-Israel and following the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Looking back, we recognised three prominent women artists who contributed widely to many such botanical projects: Ruth Koppel, Esther Huber and Bracha Avigad. This study aims to investigate the plant images these three artists have created. We will do so by using the approach of visual anthropology while focusing on two main aspects: the connection between botanical illustration and national identity, and the link between botanical art and gender. This study is the first to demonstrate that botanical art in Israeli culture has been gendered, with women doing most of the work, in agreement with findings from Western culture.

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