John Halaka: Memories of Memories

February 9, 2023


Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery

Drawing of four hands resting on top of each other drawn on top of a building.

About the Exhibition:

The MSU Department of Art, Shackouls Honors College, the International Institute, and the Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures collaborate to host an exhibition of work by artist and filmmaker John Halaka. Opening February 9th in the Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery, Memories of Memories is an exhibition of Halaka’s work that critically examines the effects and after-effects of colonization and social and political injustices on marginalized populations.

The exhibition is open February 9th through March 3rd.

The Cullis Wade Depot Art Gallery, located next to Barnes and Noble Bookstore on MSU's main campus, is open to the public Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed University holidays.

Artist Statement for Memories of Memories:

"My work is driven by a desire to observe and creatively visualize the tensions between the emotional presence and physical absence of populations whose cultures have been devastated by the violent intrusions of settler colonialism.   Whether in Palestine or other native lands, the struggles of indigenous people against repeated cycles of physical and cultural genocide remain mostly unseen, unheard and unknown.

The drawings, photographs and videos in the exhibit are directly informed by stories I recorded with Palestinian men and women who have been forcibly displaced from their homes and homeland.  The images reveal faces from erased places and evoke the narratives of a Palestinian population, who along with generations of their descendants, continue to struggle in exile and under military occupation. My artwork bears witness to the survivors of a catastrophic history of forced displacement and invites viewers to reflect on our moral responsibilities to the ongoing cultural erasure of the Palestinians.

For people who have been expelled from their homes and homelands, all that remains are memories of a land they historically belonged to and a culture that shaped their values and world views. Those memories are eloquently and passionately conveyed from generation to generation and arouse the desire to return to a homeland they have been unjustly denied. The memories of the refugees shape the determination to rebuild a thriving culture on the ruble of their shattered homeland. 

I feel extremely privileged to have been allowed to witness, record and to share with you a few of the stories, desires, and memories of the dispossessed. The images I create conjure ghosts of their unfading presence and preserve memories of their memories."

About John Halaka:

John Halaka’s art projects incorporate drawing, painting, photography and oral history. His images serve as visual meditations on experiences of indigenous survival, creative resistance and cultural persistence in the face of settler-colonial erasure.

Halaka’s 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. 

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 more of John Halaka’s artwork, please visit his websites:     

Building Construction Science

(662) 325-8305

Interior Design

(662) 325-0530

Dean's Office

(662) 325-5150


(662) 325-2202