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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Abstract

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.

Contributor Notes

Shahar Marnin-Distelfeld is a faculty member in the Department of Literature, Art and Music at Zefat Academic College and teaches Art History at Oranim College of Education. She earned her PhD from the University of Haifa. Her dissertation dealt with representations of homemakers as they appeared in the popular Hebrew culture of Mandatory Palestine. She is also the curator of the Upper-Floor Gallery at the Memorial Centre in Kiryat Tivon. Her studies focus on Israeli visual culture, art and gender and sociology of art. She recently edited The Women Behind, Museum on the Seam (2018). Email: smarnin@gmail.com

Edna Gorney teaches at the Women and Gender Graduate Studies Programme at Haifa University and received her PhD in Behavioural Ecology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1997. She worked as a biologist for the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel. She is the author of Exploited and Protected: Ecofeminist Theory of Nature, Culture and Society in Israel (2011) and of her first poetry book, Lift and Drag (2014), both in Hebrew. Her research interests include: ecofeminism, environmental justice, environmental history and eco-criticism. Email: ednagorney@yahoo.com

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