biography

Mr. Kanaan’s background is both interesting and diverse. He was born and raised in Amman, Jordan, in a Palestinian refugee camp. An artist by training, Kanaan studied at the College of Fine Arts at Baghdad University prior to immigrating to the U.S. in 1994. After moving to Portland, he obtained his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design from PSU 1999, and in 2006, earned his Master of Fine Arts in Painting and Mixed Media from Warnborough University in Ireland. 

For the eight years, Kanaan was an adjunct professor in PSU’s art department where he’s taught courses in interactive media, Web design and computer graphics. Since 2011, he is serving PSU as the Middle East Student Retention Specialist. He continues to be an active artist, regularly participating in both solo and group shows.    

Mr. Kanaan’s work has been a continuation of his personal belief in using art to reach out to others, to heal and make connections. He believes as different as we are in color, ideology or our stands within political or social spectrums, we look beautiful together. His rich artwork pleasing to the eye reflects his message and creates a dialogue anchored in peace and beauty.

Mr. Kanaan’s work has received critical accolades throughout the Pacific Northwest, having been shown in a number of galleries, over seventeen solo and twenty-six exhibitions and festivals national and internationally.   

Kanaan’s artwork – which has received accolades from national and local media such as OPB’s “Art Beat,” the Oregonian, the Columbian and PBS’ “Newshour” – focuses on creating intelligent and thoughtful dialogue about similarities and differences of culture, language, tradition and faith: Anchored in peace and respecting our common humanity.

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