USF’s Thacher Gallery Opens Fall Season with Once Upon a Time

Share Article

USF’s Thacher Gallery Opens Fall Season with Once Upon a Time. Artist Jamil Hellu explores identities in exhibit opening Sept. 6 at the University of San Francisco's Thacher Gallery.

San Francisco-based artist Jamil Hellu explains his newest exhibit, Once Upon a Time, opening Sept. 6 in USF's Thacher Gallery.

“This body of work was first conceived after I saw news footage of blindfolded Syrian men being tossed off high buildings by ISIS because of their perceived sexual orientation,” Hellu said.

What happens when one man’s Middle Eastern heritage crashes head-on with his gay identity? That deeply personal quest for understanding by San Francisco-based artist Jamil Hellu is the focus of a new exhibit, Once upon a Time, that opens Sept. 6 at the Thacher Gallery on the University of San Francisco campus.

“This body of work was first conceived after I saw news footage of blindfolded Syrian men being tossed off high buildings by ISIS because of their perceived sexual orientation,” Hellu said. “Looking for ways to voice my despair over violence and homophobia in the Middle East, I started to produce works claiming my own Arab roots. What does it mean to negotiate my Syrian ancestry as a gay man in such a conflict-ridden world? My recent works bring the friction between Syrian heritage and queer identity into focus.”

A reaction to both homophobia and xenophobia, Once Upon a Time features photographs, screen prints, and video. It runs through Oct. 23, and admission is free.

“One of the major themes of Jamil’s work is the very complicated place where queer and Arab identity meet in his life,” said Glori Simmons, director of the Thacher Gallery. “Seeing his work encourages all of us to think about potentially similar intersections in our own identities as well as helps us to better understand the nuances of others.”

On Thursday, Sept. 22, from 2-3 p.m. in the McLaren Conference Center (room 250), Jamil Hellu will discuss his work with a USF student and Jacqueline Francis, adjunct professor in the Art+Architecture Department at USF. The artist talk is free and open to all, and will be followed by a reception in Thacher Gallery, beginning with a performance of Middle Eastern songs by the USF Classical Choral Ensembles. This event is presented in conjunction with the USF Cultural Centers, Queer Alliance, the Office of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach (DECO), the USF Classical Choral Ensembles, and the Department of Performing Arts and Social Justice.

Hellu teaches photography at Stanford University, where he graduated in 2010 with an MFA in art practice. He is the winner of a 2015-26 fellowship at the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley; one of only eight artists selected from 275 applicants, and was selected as an Artist-in-Residence at Recology San Francisco in 2014.

Located in Gleeson Library—Geschke Center, the Thacher Gallery at USF is free and open to the public from noon to 6 p.m. daily. Please visit http://www.usfca.edu/thacher-gallery for further details.

For more information and to request an interview with Jamil Hellu, please contact Anne-Marie Devine Tasto, USF senior director of media relations, at (415) 422-2697 or abdevine(at)usfca(dot)edu.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Anne-Marie Devine Tasto
Visit website