Jamil Hellu was born in Brazil, received his MFA from Stanford University and a BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. He was selected for a six-month residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and was granted the Markowski-Leach Scholarship in 2008. He has received the Graduate Fellowship Award at Headlands Center for the Arts for 2010-2011. Hellu has taught photography at Stanford University, San Francisco Art Institute, Diablo Valley College, and UC Berkeley Art Studio. He lives in San Francisco.
Todd (2014), from Guardians of the Golden Gate series, digital photography
With his series Guardians of the Golden Gate, Hellu invites his subjects to create fictitious superhero characters, providing them the opportunity to express themselves and free their imagination. By putting together specific costumes, each individual constructs a unique character inspired by personal ideas around mythology and archetypal superheroes. This work is about creativity and role-playing as much as it is about manifesting interpretations of identity, particularly as it relates to self-representation in photography. As each individual invents a distinctive character to be photographed, the camera becomes an instrument of escapism, offering people to opportunity to create their own fantasy self.