John Halaka is an activist artist whose creative work serves as a vehicle for meditations on experiences of instability that have been shaped by personal, cultural and political circumstances. His pictorial investigations of indigenous survival, creative resistance and cultural persistence in the face of settler-colonial repression, are guided by his identity an artist of Palestinian descent.

Halaka employs multiple visual languages to investigate personal conditions that have been shaped by histories of unfulfilled desires as well as political and cultural denial. His visual narratives echo a perpetual state of insecurity and defiance that results from an asymmetrical relationship between the oppressed and their oppressors. John Halaka describes his engagement with his creative work in the following way:

“As a visual artist working in the fields of drawing, painting, photography and oral history, I have long been committed to developing an art practice that adheres to the philosophy of “the artist as public servant.” My artwork is produced as a result of an extended personal engagement with marginalized communities and is designed to provide an arena for both the participants and the viewers, to meditate on survival and resistance as conditions that shape the life experiences of displaced populations. Two of my ongoing art projects engage Palestinian refugees, as well as Palestinian farmers, in a process of speaking of their personal and cultural histories of displacement, survival and resistance. The personal narratives, cultural tales, memories, struggles and aspirations of the individuals that I interview, directly inform the images that I create. Those images offer viewers a poetic visual space to reflect on our relationships to questions of exile, as well as our responsibilities to the persistent struggles of indigenous populations, against cultural and historical erasures.”

John is currently developing a large series of drawings, titled Landscapes of Resistance, on maps of the United States and Palestine. The drawings honor histories of cultural survival and creative resistance against colonial repression by Native Americans, African Americans, Palestinians and migrant workers.

John Halaka’s artwork has been exhibited nationally and internationally in numerous solo and group exhibitions. He is the recent recipient of a Palestinian American Research Center Fellowship, that supported the first phase of his work in the West Bank, on a project titled Vanishing Harvest: Meditations on the End of Palestinian Agriculture. He also received a Fulbright Fellowship to record the stories of Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon.

John Halaka is a Professor of Visual Arts 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, and his B.A. in Fine Arts from the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program, with Brooklyn College as home school.

To view a broad selection of John Halaka’s artwork, please visit his websites:

He can be contacted at the following address:
Professor John Halaka,
Department of Art, Architecture + Art History.
University of San Diego.
5998 Alcala Park. San Diego, CA 92110.
[email protected]