John Halaka is an activist artist whose creative work serves as a vehicle for meditation on personal, cultural and political concerns. He creates images that raise questions, for himself as well as for the viewer, about some of the pressing issues of our time. The primary focus of his work over the past two and a half decades can be summarized as an ongoing reflection on the frailty and resilience of the human condition and the persistent search for self-realization in the face of personal and cultural self-delusion. His experiences as an artist of Palestinian descent shape his pictorial investigations of cycles of repression and displacement as well as the personal and political relationship between desire, denial and instability. His recent work in both painting and documentary filmmaking investigates issues of identity construction from personal, familial and political perspectives. “Through my work, I attempt to initiate a dialogue with the viewer that could hopefully instigate transformation, one person at a time. This effort is best summarized by James Baldwin’s eloquent observation. “When circumstances are made real by another’s testimony, it becomes possible to envision change.”
John Halaka is of Palestinian descent and was born in El Mansoura, Egypt, in 1957.
He is a Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of San Diego, where he has taught since 1991. He received his MFA in the Visual Arts from the University of Houston in 1983. In 1979, Halaka received his B.A. in Fine Arts from the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program, with Brooklyn College as home school. John Halaka has exhibited his work in solo and group exhibitions both locally, nationally, and internationally. He is the recent recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship that enabled him to record the narratives of three generations of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. A solo exhibit of his drawings from the series LANDSCAPES OF DESIRE was displayed at the Arab American National Museum during the second half of 2013. His work was included in the exhibit Made In Palestine, organized by the Station Museum, in Houston Texas, as well as, IN-VISIBLE, the inaugural exhibition at the Arab American National Museum in Detroit, Michigan. His recent documentary film credits include The Presence of Absence in the Ruins of Kafr Bir’im (60 minutes, released November 2007, SittingCrow Productions) and Wounds of the Heart: An Artist and her Nation (53 minutes. February 2009. SittingCrow Productions). Halaka’s art can be viewed on his web site www.johnhalaka.com.
Over the past fifteen years, John Halaka has been active in several local and national Arab/Jewish dialogue groups who are committed to a non-violent solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and who advocate an immediate end to the occupation of Palestine as the first step in a long journey towards reconciliation and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and lands.
He can be contacted at the following address:
Professor John Halaka
Department of Art
University of San Diego
5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110