ARTIST STATEMENT

My practice as a visual artist has been shaped by a persistent desire to learn. I employ the visual languages of drawing, painting, photography and documentary video to investigate broadly and reflect deeply on issues of social justice, human rights and indigenous survival in the face of settler-colonial tyranny. My artwork is produced as a result of extended personal engagement with marginalized communities and is designed to provide an arena for the participants, myself and the viewers, to meditate on survival and resistance as conditions that shape the life experiences of displaced populations. In recent years, my artwork has been shaped by stories that have been shared with me. The personal narratives, cultural tales, memories, struggles and aspirations of the communities I engage with and the individuals that I interview, directly inform the images that I create. My 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.

I have also been consistently interested in the personal, cultural and political tensions between the human desire for self-realization and our proclivity for self-delusion. Do we build to destroy, create to eradicate and reveal to conceal?

Below are links and artist's statements to some of the projects I produced over the past four decades. I invite you to look and reflect and to leave with lots of questions.

John Halaka

July 2021

Landscapes of Resistance-Souls that Teach us. (2019-Present)
Landscapes of Resistance-Spirits that Guide Us. (2019-Present)
Landscapes of Resistance-Hands that Feed Us. (2019-Present)
Burnt Flesh / Strong Hearts (2016-Present)
Ghosts of Presence/Bodies of Absence (2016 - 2017)
Portraits of Denial & Desire (2012 - Present)
Landscapes of Desire (2009 - 2013)
Mapping Repression (2007 - Present)
Fragmented Visions (2001 - Present)
Whispers & Echoes (1997 - 2001)
Relics: Meditations on Decay & Renewal - Drawings (1995 - 1997)
Relics: Meditations on Decay & Renewal - Paintings ( 1995 - 1997)
Only Human (1994 - 1995)
Remember to Forget (1993 - 1995)
Witness (1989 - 1991)
Passage in Exile (1989 - 1991)
Forgotten Survivors (1987 - 2003)
Heroes of the Stone (1988 -1989)
Dancing in the Dark (1984 - 1987)
Desire & Denial (1988)
Prelude to a Pacifist Revolution (1985 -1986)
Watching the Peasants Vanish (1983 - 1984)
Learn to Die (1982 - Present)
• Memories of Dying Friend (1978 - 1983)

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"Landscapes of Resistance."
2019-Present, Ink on Maps of the United States and Palestine. 40x30" plus other sizes.

A series of drawings consisting of two parts:

Part 1. 36 drawings on maps of the United States of America.
Part 2. 36 drawings on maps of Palestine (in progress.)

Part 1 consists of three groups of drawings:

Group A. Souls that Teach Us.
Group B. Spirits that Guide Us.
Group C. Hands that Feed Us.

As graphic representations of landscapes, national, regional and state maps identify territorial claims, while deliberately obscuring genocidal histories that secured those claims. Conventional maps of nations that have been built on the lands of others, classify without historical commentary, colonially imposed boundaries, claimed and renamed places and an expansive web of small and large roads that connect and secure those places. A map, including the map of the United States of America, guides its viewer to embrace as normal, virtuous and permanent, a political worldview of a nation that has in fact been shaped by documented histories of genocidal settler-colonial expansion, ruthless and dehumanizing enslavement, as well as exceptionally abusive labor practices that greatly enrich the settlers.

When creatively subverted, maps can be read as ghostly records that reveal hidden struggles of persistence and suppressed narratives of survival that emerge from national landscapes that continue to be haunted by chronicles of subjugation and extermination. As maps of disputed territories conceal more than they reveal, my drawings on maps disrupt the graphically presented landscapes of two settler-colonial powers.

I started drawing on maps of the United States as well as maps of occupied Palestine in order to visualize the tensions between the presence and absence of indigenous populations whose cultures have been devastated by the destructive forces of settler colonialism. The drawings in the series underscore corresponding pressures between the cultural and political erasure imposed by settlers, and the creative resistance of communities that have been consistently marginalized, violently displaced and brutally repressed. Drawings on maps of nations that have been built on the land of others, remind us that countless indigenous cultures continue to resist the driving forces that fuel the political cultures of colonialism: overwhelming greed, an enormous sense of entitlement, and profoundly destructive self-delusions of racial supremacy.

On a public level, the drawing project honors the struggles of activists, scholars, artists as well as indigenous and migrant farmers and laborers. The work of the individuals presented in the drawings exemplify the global struggle against the brutality of colonial dominance as well as the tyranny of structural racism. The effort of the individuals presented, along with the efforts of many others like them, provides a moral road map that guides us to acknowledge our individual and collective responsibilities to correct the ongoing erasures of colonized cultures, people and communities.

On a personal level, the extended process of developing this series of drawings has been and continues to be a journey of deep learning from the selfless activism, critical scholarship and creative practices of the individuals depicted in the images. Drawing each of these women and men over an extended period of time, provides me with an opportunity to meditate on and to learn from their work, their commitment to human rights and justice, as well as from their cultural and political engagements with the communities that shaped them.

The large project is still a work in progress. When completed, the project will consist of two connected groups of images, for a total of seventy-two drawings. Thirty-six of the drawings have been developed on maps of the United States, while the other group of thirty-six drawings continue to be created on maps of Palestine. One of the objectives of exhibiting the two parts of the project together, is to instigate personal reflections and public discussions on the parallel histories of erasure and resistance that guide the liberation struggles of colonized people.

I chose to develop the first part of the project on contemporary edition maps of the United States that have been printed and circulated by the American Automobile Association (AAA). Since their initial publication in 1906, AAA maps have been referred to as "America's Road Map." The widely accepted and until recently heavily utilized print editions of AAA's maps, have been used by tens of millions of people over the past century, as they planned and undertook journeys across the colonized American landscape. As evolving graphic representations of America's "Manifest Destiny", the ubiquitous road maps uncritically present a sanitized, hospitable, habitable and now easily traversed landscape of this nation. The maps reveal the boundaries of states, counties, cities, towns and the names of large and small places, while emphasizing the ever-expanding network of highways and roads that connect, secure and regulate those places. "America's Road Map" highlights a fully colonized and subdued national landscape that has been rendered safe and accommodating for the mobility of settlers.

In combination with their intended function, AAA road maps can also be read as representations of the aftermath of America's expansive settler-colonial project. More importantly than what they reveal, maps of the U.S. conceal the destructive histories of forced displacements, cultural erasures, physical genocides, prolonged enslavements, engineered poverty and dehumanizing racism that continue to serve as an ideological road map to the colonization of American minds.

The work of the individuals presented in this drawing project, guides us to reflect on ways of recognizing and rectifying ongoing histories of oppression, cruelty and racism against Indigenous people, formerly enslaved populations as well as economically repressed workers who continue to build the physical and financial wealth of powerful settler-colonial nations. Acknowledging our histories of colonial oppression, while accepting our individual and collective responsibilities to repair the damages caused by those histories, presents the only road map to justice.

John Halaka
July 2021

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"Stripped of Their Identity and Driven from Their Land."
1993 - 2003. Ink and Rubber-Stamped Ink on Canvas. 96x276" plus other sizes.

From the Project: Forgotten Survivors.
1988 - Present

The drawing Stripped of Their Identity and Driven from Their Land, is part of a larger project titled Forgotten Survivors, that I have been developing for more than three decades. The project encompasses several different series of drawings, paintings, photographs, oral history archives and documentary films. All of the components of the project serve as a meditation on the forced displacement of indigenous Palestinians, their persistent struggle to return to their native lands, and the role of personal narratives as a tool for survival in the face of ongoing cultural genocide. <\p>

The large drawing was developed between 1993 and 2003 and addresses the massive forces of cataclysmic displacement that continue to be imposed on indigenous populations. The image depicts nameless and stateless individual who have been stripped of their identity and are traveling in a seemingly endless state of exile. The figures appear to have been denied the stability and dignity of existing peacefully in their homes and homeland. <\p>

Although the figures do not refer to any individual culture or ethnicity, my primary focus in this project has been on the experiences of indigenous Palestinians. By deliberately avoiding the representation of figures that are culturally specific, I intended to underscore the parallels between the struggles of the Palestinians and other persecuted populations. <\p>

I designed the composition so that the clusters of figures appear to be traveling from nowhere to nowhere, while drifting from an endless field of restless motion. I drew the image with densely overlapping short marks that simultaneously suggest the potentials of frailty and monumentality to the figures. The layered and restless patterns of marks also imply an ephemeral quality that intimates an ambiguity of whether the mass of naked bodies is appearing or disappearing before our eyes. <\p>

Viewed from a distance, the composition has been choreographed to make the mass of figures feel like they will emerge from the drawing into the gallery space, potentially forcing the viewer to consider her physical, historical and political relationships to the seemingly endless waves of displaced humanity. On close inspection, the viewer realizes that the dense pattern of marks that define the shapes of the figure are made from two words that have been repeated and layered thousands of times. The rubber-stamped words FORGOTTEN SURVIVORS, compel viewers to reflect on several questions: who are those survivors? why are they forgotten? Who has forgotten them? What dangers and misery have they survived?

The rubber-stamped words continue to guide viewers to reflect on the personal, historical and political relationships between the process of remembering and forgetting the displaced and the disposed.<\p>

John Halaka
July, 2021

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"Burnt Flesh / Strong Hearts."
2016 - 2018. Burnt Marks and Oil on Oak Panels. 150x44" and 84x 36".

From the Project: Forgotten Survivors.
1988 - Present

The drawings that comprise the series Burnt Flesh / Strong Hearts, are metaphorical portraits of Palestinian refugees that I met and got to know in Lebanon. They represent a few of the men and women that I had the privilege of interviewing for an oral history archive titled Forgotten Survivors. Some were born in exile as the children or grandchildren of refugees, while the elders were forced out of their homeland in 1948 and spent the past seven decades finding their footing in host-lands that still refuse to accept them. All struggle mightily in the aftermath of ongoing ethnic cleansing that denies their historical and cultural connections to the homeland they belonged to. <\p>

The compositions were directly informed by the life experiences of the individuals depicted in the drawings. Each of them shared with me complex stories that conveyed a life shaped by experiences of displacement and oppression as well as resistance and survival. The large images were drawn on wood with a burning tool, to suggest the millions of cuts and burns that shape the lives of the refugees. The images stand as witness to a history that remains concealed and to narratives that continue to be unheard. The lives of refugees are guided by memories of and desires for a homeland they have been denied. <\p>

The drawings for the series Burnt Flesh / Strong Hearts, are part of larger project titled Forgotten Survivors, that I have been developing form more than three decades. Forgotten Survivors, encompasses several different series of drawings, paintings, photographs, oral history archives and documentary films. All of the components of the project serve as a meditation on the forced displacement of indigenous Palestinians, their persistent struggle to return to their native lands, and the role of personal narratives as a tool for survival in the face of an ongoing cultural genocide. <\p>

My approach to creating images about experiences of forced displacement expanded dramatically after I began recording interviews with Palestinian refugees. My work became directly informed by the personal stories that were shared with me by men and women, who experienced the tragedy of forced displacement, the misery of exile and the yearning to return to a land that was stolen from them. After I started recording personal stories from four generations of Palestinian refugees, I began to view many of my art projects as vessels that preserve some of the experiences of the refugees and present their narratives and memories through a poetic and hopefully unsentimental visual language. <\p>

John Halaka
July, 2021

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"Ghost of Presence / Bodies of Absence"
2016- Present. Ink and Rubber-Stamped Ink over Digital Prints on Paper. 70x30" and 22x30" plus other sizes.

My drawings from the series Ghosts of Presence / Bodies of Absence, reflect on the unrelenting tension between the physical absence of Palestinians who have been exiled from their homeland, and the psychological presence of millions of Palestinian refugees who continue the struggle to return to the lands that were stolen from them.

Appearing like ghosts in unsolidified fields of dreams, the Palestinian refugees presented in my drawings, evoke the presence of absence in a homeland that has been cleansed of most of its indigenous sons and daughters. By visually joining the refugees with Palestinian villages that have been destroyed since 1948, my images metaphorically reunite the displaced indigenous inhabitants with the native homeland they have been denied.

For Palestinians in exile, as well as those living under occupation, survival is resistance. Survival is the denial of imposed colonial absence, while resistance is the assurance of ongoing indigenous presence.

The drawings invite the viewer to become a witness to forgotten survivors who have languished in exile and in the shadows of the world's consciousness for the past seventy-three years.

John Halaka
July 10, 2021

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"Portraits of Denial & Desire" (2013 - Present)

From the Project: Forgotten Survivors. (1988 - Present )

"When circumstances are made real by another's testimony, it becomes possible to envision change."

James Baldwin

Palestinian refugees have become the forgotten survivors of the world. They exist, unseen and unheard, in the margins of the marginalized, while their experiences in exile continue to be deliberately ignored and their voices repeatedly silenced. Their Nakba (the Arabic word for the "Great Catastrophe") began with the forced expulsion of the Palestinians from their homeland in 1948, and continues to this day.

The images honor the cultural survival of Palestinians who have been geographically divided as a people but are psychologically united in their struggle. The elders that appear in the portraits were displaced from their homes and homeland in 1948, while their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren who are presented in the project, have grown up in exile, with the majority struggling for survival in various refugee camps.

Preserving the stories of indigenous Palestinians puts a human face, a living name and unique sets of experiences on this ongoing refugee crisis. It humanizes and personalizes the abstract notion of the displaced masses, making the experiences of the refugees infinitely more real, comprehensible and unforgettable. It individualizes Palestinian narratives of displacement, survival and resistance making them tangible and irrefutable. Recording the personal stories of Palestinian survivors and presenting them through art, literature and film, is part of a critical effort to make the unseen seen, and the unheard heard, so we can never say, "I didn't know."

The Art and literature of survival and resistance are antidotes to forgetting. They help to ensure that experiences are preserved and that current and future generations are informed. They implore us to "never forget."

For Palestinians living in exile as well as those living under occupation, memory is the engine of their return. Memory allows the Palestinians to envision and to seek the denied security of their homeland, and enables them to creatively design the re-construction of their shattered society. Memory inspires the Palestinians to visualize processes to re-assemble the hundreds of thousands of families that have been dismembered and globally scattered in repeated cycles of forced exile, occupation and repression.

In our active journey towards peace, the persistence of memory leads to acknowledgement; acknowledgment guides us toward justice; justice will carry us to reconciliation; and reconciliation will deliver us to forgiveness.

The photographs in this series are part of a large multi-disciplinary project titled Forgotten Survivors, that encompasses' several different series of drawings, paintings, photographs, oral history archives and documentary films. All of the components of the project are directly informed by the stories of Palestinian refugees that I had the privilege of recording. The images serve as a meditation on the forced displacement of indigenous Palestinians, their persistent struggle to return to their native lands, and the role of personal narratives as a tool for survival in the face of an ongoing cultural genocide. The large sepia toned images from the series have been exhibited under the title Faces From Erased Places.

John Halaka
July 2021

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"Landscapes of Desire"
2009-2013. Ink and Rubber-Stamped Ink on Paper and Canvas. Various Sizes. 44x84" and 22x30" plus other sizes

My drawings from the series Landscapes of Desire are inspired by the ruins of Palestinian villages and homes that have been destroyed during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. My work bears witness to a tragic history of Palestinian displacement and invites viewers to reflect on their moral responsibilities to seemingly perpetual cycles of oppression.  

The images in this series are deliberately devoid of political and cultural references to Palestine. By avoiding images that are culturally specific, I hope to underscore the parallels between the struggle of the Palestinians and other persecuted people. The emotional and psychological impact of the drawings lay in their universal reference to surviving and resisting political and cultural traumas; the yearning to re-claim shattered past; and the desire to create a future that is free of persecution.

One of my intentions in creating this series is to make drawings that feel like ghostly apparitions. The forms in each drawing are modeled with one or two stamped words that have been repeated thousands of times on the page to create a rhythmic pulsating texture. The resulting landscapes appear to exist in a transitional state between vanishing and becoming visible, suggesting a reality on the verge of disappearing or re-emerging before our eyes. The repeated words I employ to construct the images can apply to most historical and contemporary political tragedies. The drawings invite the viewer to reflect on their personal relationships to histories and cultures of repressions and resistance.

On a personal level, the images allow me to reflect on an enduring effort to annihilate a Palestinian culture that refuses to disappear and an indigenous people that refuse to go away. Drawings of the ruins of stone homes from devastated Palestinian villages such as Kafr Bir'im, Lifta, Al-Bassa, A'mka and Kuikat, are a declaration that in the face of looming cultural annihilation, the persistence of memory is a crucial act of political resistance and cultural survival.

The images are rendered with ink and rubber-stamped words.  The repeated stamping of the words defines the forms, textures and tones of the landscapes. Most importantly, the repeated words employed to construct the drawings become a visual mantra, compelling us to “remember,” “resist,” “return,” and “rebuild” while preparing to “forgive.”

I view forgiveness as one of the most challenging, yet most critical final stages of a successful non-violent resistance campaign waged by the Palestinians against their occupiers. History teaches all who have suffered or continue to suffer under the tyranny of an oppressor, that without cultivating an emotional state of forgiveness, the victims risk becoming the monster they wish to destroy.

Inspired by lessons of forgiveness preached by Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, I invite the viewer to reflect on the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, whom I am paraphrasing here:

Without forgiveness, there can be no tomorrow.

John Halaka
August 2021

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"Mapping Repression" (2007 - Present)

Maps are graphic representations of geopolitical spaces that are often charged with the mythologies of exceptionalism; personal memories; cultural attachments; spiritual belonging; and political ownership. Maps represent contested spaces with hidden histories of repression, denial and exclusion.

The drawings in this series unveil the tensions of desire and denial in the contested spaces of Palestine/Israel as well as the United States of America. The images address the cultures of psychological and physical violence that engulfs both the victims and perpetrators. The images function as portraits of the hearts and minds of the oppressed and their oppressor.

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"Fragmented Visions" (2001 - Present)

In 2002, I began to develop a series of images that are loosely clustered under the title “Fragmented Visions.” The initial phase of this project was informed by the work of the Irish author Samuel Beckett. The images investigate themes of isolation, disintegration, resilience and the ongoing search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world. The process of loosing oneself to the world around you, of breaking down, of becoming invisible, yet refusing to disappear, is central to the images in this series. Many of the paintings allude to our frailties as humans and to the illusionary shields of stability and permanence we create to conceal those frailties.

I dedicated the largest painting in this series to the late American artist Gregory Gillespie. The process of working on this painting enabled me to reflect on the gradual, yet persistent psychological disintegration that privately occurs under the seemingly placid surface of an individual’s public facade. The image explores questions about the erratic relationship between ambition and honesty, as well as the cultural decay that occurs in the shadows of an individual’s public identity. Additionally, working on that painting, as well as on the works that followed it, provided an arena where I could reflect on the struggle between the equally powerful engines of desire and delusion.

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"Whispers & Echoes" (1997 - 2001)

I started working on the paintings for the series “Whispers and Echoes” in early 1998. When I began my research for this project, my intentions were to develop a group of images that would compel the viewer to reflect on a few pressing, but inconspicuous, social problems. I also wanted the narrative for the images to be informed by the morals of selected folk tales and myth. I planned to achieve my goals without creating images that were either illustrative in their forms or didactic and moralistic in their message. My proposed objectives and methods were natural outgrowths of my previous work, the majority of which has been politically inspired and socially engaged.

Preliminary research and studies for the paintings brought me to the awareness that my initial objectives for the project were misdirected. My research on myths and the social function of mythology made me realize that I did not wish to create images that analyzed and critiqued external problems and conditions. My readings, reflections and early sketches refocused my analysis, and by extension, the content of my images. A focus on the personal manifestations of certain psychological and emotional conditions gained primacy in my work. Although it took some time to accept and embrace this change, it became very clear to me that my re-aligned concerns echoed broader and endemic social problems.

“Whispers & Echoes” is a visual meditation on doubt, delusion, obsession and desire. The series can be characterized as an inward journey of rediscovery. The images for this series have been emotionally challenging to create because they bring to expression, and in the public light, personal issues that have been ignored, or dealt with covertly. To the attentive viewer, the images may whisper some of my interior monologues while simultaneously echoing a few of our common, albeit private struggles.

Will the images only be viewed as a window into my consciousness? Will they serve as a mirror of the viewer’s consciousness? Can they act as both a window and mirror that unsentimentally reveal glimpses of the human condition? Since the issues I explore in the paintings are certainly not unique to me. I am confident that the content of the paintings will strike a familiar, although potentially uncomfortable, cord with many viewers. The paintings may also compel a few of the viewers to begin to confront the same issues overtly.

I have long felt that the most meaningful artwork originates from personal experiences and concerns. After three years of working on this project I became only slightly more comfortable with the public presentation of the private inquiries inherent in the work. On the other hand, I have become more secure in the potential social functions that the series may serve. I am also growing comfortable with the realization that the series is not a dramatic departure from my previous work and from the original intentions of the project.

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"Relics: Meditations on Decay & Renewal" (1995 - 1997)

My work on the series "Relics: Meditations on Decay and Renewal” began in 1995 as a reflection on the frailty, resiliency, and self-destructive character of human nature. My relationship to the images gradually evolved into a visual meditation on cycles of nature: birth, development, death, decay and rebirth. The forms in many of these images are nature based, but represent unnatural, defensive, and extremely frail fragments of a subverted creation. The forms imply a state of flux. They appear to be simultaneously in the process of disintegrating and materializing. Some of the images suggest a nature at war with itself for its very survival, a nature in the process of self-extermination, yet struggling to sustain and reinvent itself, a nature on the verge of collapse, yet containing within its decaying corpse the seeds of its resurrection, reconstruction and re-destruction.

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"Only Human" (1994 - 1995)

We say “never again”, again and again and again, and then excuse our actions because we are “only human”.

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"Remember to Forget"
1994 - 1995. Ink and Rubber-Stamped Ink on Canvas. 96x160" plus other sizes.

"Until the lion finds his story teller, histories of the hunt will always glorify the hunter."
 - Chinua Achebe

The series Remember to Forget, consists of drawings and paintings that serve as meditations on the idealized representation of sacrifice and the seductive functions of monuments as tools that covertly heroize villains and furtively perpetuate cruelty.

Images representing "heroic" personal and collective sacrifice reach their apex in national monuments, religious altars as well as cultural memorials. Whether permanent or transitory, visual public commemorations of martyrdom regularly combine depictions of idealized beauty, venerated bravery with choreographed violence, and present them to the public as edifying symbols of noble sacrifice. Whether viewed in the city plaza or in a religious temple, monuments guide us to remember and force us to forget. National and religious monuments and memorials all too often influence citizens to elevate, emulate and commemorate sanctioned narratives of carnage. They define histories of conquest through sanitized chronicles of slaughter, and present them as instruments of public enlightenment.

Whether made of stone or steel, monuments continue to be built on fields littered with shattered bodies and hills shaped by flowing rivers of blood. By glorifying and justifying selective narratives that conceal histories of brutality, monuments seduce believers to make future offerings at national and religious altars of martyrdom. If the crushed corpses of anointed "martyrs" could speak, what would they ask us to remember, and what would they guide us to forget? If their lifeless bodies could talk, would they tell us of their sacrifice?

John Halaka
July 2013

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"Witness" (1989 -1991)

In a world seduced by violence and hatred those of us who refuse to close our eyes to our inhumanity continue to witness with horror, yet so few of us dare to scream. My images are witness to, and echoes of, humanity's screams.

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"Passage in Exile" (1989 - 1991)

The images in this series address the burden and rage of exile and the persistant struggle to return. The canoe like forms serve as vehicles of self-determination, yet without oars, their destiny is mostly defined by external forces and currents. The forms also represent seedpods that contain the memories of the displaced and their fertile hope of return. Driven by the currents of exile, those seeds are destined to germinate in new lands, extending the history of the dispossessed and complicating their desire to return.

“Exile is difficult, but the return is even worse.” Michel Khleifa, Canticle of the Stone

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"Forgotten Survivors" (1987 - 2003)

I worked on the series “Forgotten Survivors” between the years of 1987 and 1993. This large body of work is made up of several smaller series of paintings and drawings that represent, in part, the theme of people dispossessed of their land. Many of the images in the series depict nameless and stateless individuals, stripped of their identity, traveling in exile, having been denied the stability and the dignity of existing peacefully in their homeland.

Although none of the images in this series directly or literally refer to any specific group, I regard "Forgotten Survivors" as an homage to the Palestinians. By deliberately avoiding images that are culturally specific, I hoped to underscore the parallels between the struggle of the Palestinians and other persecuted people. I feel that the emotional and psychological impact of the images in this series lay in their universal reference to survivors. Whether it is the indigenous people of the Americas, Africa, Australia, the Bosnians and Croatians, the Jews, the Palestinians, the Kurds or another group, the paintings and drawings that make up the series "Forgotten Survivors" permit each viewer to project his/her experiences and concerns on my images.

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"Heroes of the Stone " (1988 - 1989)

The drawings in this series are an homage to the courage and tenacity of the Palestinian youth of the First Intifada. By representing the stone throwers in the guise of Greco/Roman athletes, I attempt to link the defiant actions of Palestinian resistance, with the classical Western image of the heroic warrior.

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"Dancing in the Dark" (1984 - 1987)

This series consists of a number of paintings and drawings that employ the motif of the chair as a surrogate for the human body. The animated forms of the chair refer to the contemplative, restless and ever changing nature of the mind.

Reflection and action / action and reflection, are the "two-step" dance of life.

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"Desire & Denial" (1988)

Desire is the engine of creativity. Denial is the cause of paralysis.

We struggle with demons of repression, alternatively, taking the lead and then being led, in a macabre dance of suffering.

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"Prelude to a Pacifist Revolution" (1985 - 1986)

The drawings and paintings in this series are a meditation on political and familial cycles of deception and violence that result from and lead to social revolution. The images call for an honest acknowledgement of the repressive nature of humanity, where with a reversal of fortune, the oppressed often become the oppressors, perpetuating a seemingly eternal cycle of violence. Are there sustainable alternatives to the cycles of bloodletting that have historically defined major political/social changes?

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" Watching the Peasants Vanish " (1983 - 1984)

This series of paintings was inspired by a collection of essays written by the British author John Berger. Published under the title “Pig Earth”, Berger's text reflects on work, social relationships and the priorities of life in a small traditional farming community in southern France. My images serve as a meditation on the disappearance of the family farmer in the global economy. By appropriating and altering iconic French Realist paintings of laborers and farmers, I hoped to engage the viewer in a reflection on their relationship to agricultural production and sustainability.

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"Learn to Die" (1982 - Present)

Artmaking is primarily a form of active meditation; a way of living mindfully in a fleeting world propelled by desire, illusions and delusions. Life is short and finite. If we don't think of death at least once a day, then we're probably not paying much attention to life.
Learning to die is a process of learning to live.

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"Memories of Dying Friend" (1978 - 1983)

This body of work consist of a broad cycle of non-representational paintings and drawings. Although the concerns in this series may appear to be primarily formal, the images served as a private meditation on the metamorphosis of identity; on the temporary and cyclical nature of our existence; on human patterns of measuring and recording; and on the fleeting nature of intellectual and spiritual epiphanies.

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