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John Halaka

Prominent Artist, Palestinian Themes Advocate.

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Date of Birth:



El Mansoura, Egypt

Place of Birth:

Why Featured?

His profound contributions to visual arts and his dedication to teaching and mentoring the next generation of artists at the University of San Diego since 1991. Halaka's work has been recognized internationally, including exhibitions across the United States, Palestine, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and has earned him a Fulbright award to Lebanon.

Brief bio

John Halaka is an artist and professor known for his paintings, drawings, and films that explore themes of identity, displacement, and memory. Born to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, his work often reflects on the Palestinian experience. Halaka's art serves as a bridge between personal and collective narratives, inviting reflection on broader societal issues.

Major Milestones


  • Relocation to the United States from Egypt in 1970, marking the beginning of a transnational journey that would deeply influence his artistic and academic pursuits.

  • Earning his Master's of Fine Arts degree from the University of Houston in 1983, laying the foundational skills for his future work in the arts.

  • Joining the University of San Diego as a Professor of Visual Arts in 1991, where he has since been a vital part of the academic community.

  • Receiving a Fulbright award for his project in Lebanon, where he conducted oral history interviews with Palestinian refugees, showcasing his commitment to integrating art and research...See More [Read more here: ]

  • His involvement in significant exhibitions, such as "The Map Is Not the Territory," which explores parallels between Palestinians, Native Americans, and Irish, and his participation in the "I Witness Silwan" mural project...See More [ See more here: ]

  • Exhibitions on Displacement: Halaka's exhibitions, such as the one at the Oceanside Museum of Art, offer profound insights into the experiences of displaced communities, blending artistic expression with historical narratives and personal stories (San Diego Magazine) (There San Diego) .

  • Projects Highlighting Refugees' Stories: Through his art, Halaka has captured the voices of Palestinian refugees, incorporating their narratives into his works to emphasize the human aspects of displacement and resistance (San Diego Magazine) .

  • Teaching and Mentoring: As a professor, he has shaped the perspectives of countless students, guiding them through the complex interplay of art, politics, and social justice, enriching the academic environment with his expertise and passion (University of San Diego) .

  • Integration of Art and Activism: Halaka uses his artwork to engage with themes of justice and human rights, showcasing how art can serve as a powerful tool for social change and awareness (San Diego Magazine) .

  • Innovative Art Techniques: His unique approach to art, combining traditional drawing with digital media, oral histories, and text, provides a multifaceted exploration of presence and absence, making visible the narratives of those marginalized by history (There San Diego) .

Date of Last Update: 
April 6, 2024

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