San Diego-Based Artist, John Halaka, To Present New Exhibition At Oceanside Museum of Art

San Diego-based visual artist, John Halaka, presents a new exhibition, titled Listening to the Unheard / Drawing the Unseen: Meditations on Presence and Absence in Native Lands, at Oceanside Museum of Art (OMA) from September 2, 2023 through February 18, 2024.

The exhibition showcases Halaka’s visual meditations on experiences of forced displacement and indigenous survival in the face of colonial erasure.

Meditations on Presence and Absence in Native Lands

The exhibition features artwork selected from two related drawing projects. John Halaka’s drawings from the project Landscapes of Resistance, honor the creative efforts of Native American, African American and Palestinian artists, activists and scholars; while his drawings for the project Forgotten Survivors are informed by oral history interviews he recorded with Palestinian refugees.

Halaka’s depictions of the ruins of recently razed Palestinian villages aim to underscore the parallels between the struggle of the Palestinians and other dispossessed populations. Several of the drawings featured in the exhibition metaphorically reunite the displaced inhabitants with the native homeland they have been denied.

John Halaka exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art
John Halaka exhibition at Oceanside Museum of Art

John Halaka uses various graphic strategies to creatively develop his drawings. Works in the exhibition include portraits of survivors drawn on maps of the United States and Palestine, as well as images that combine overlapping layers of drawing and photographs.

In the series Burnt Flesh / Strong Hearts, the artist has drawn portraits of refugees with a burning tool, to suggest the millions of cuts and burns that shape their extended life in exile.

Themes and Reflection

Halaka’s drawings strive to visualize the tensions between the emotional presence and physical absence of populations whose cultures have been devastated by the violent intrusions of settler-colonialism. 

Meditations on Presence and Absence in Native Lands

His artwork offers viewers an opportunity to ruminate on our moral responsibilities to ongoing histories of cultural erasure that have been marginalized in the dominant national narratives of settler-colonial states.

Listening to the Unheard / Drawing the Unseen: Meditations on Presence and Absence in Native Lands, is an opportunity to reflect on stories of displacement that remain concealed and narratives of survival that continue to be unheard.

See you there

For more information, please visit the Oceanside Museum of Art website here.

OMA is located at 704 Pier View Wy, Oceanside, CA 92054.

See you there, San Diego!

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