(Picture above: Tasneem with the kids of Qala'a, in the middle of project 'Beside their colored shadows' in collaboration with another resident artist Hisham Al Khatib, painting the shoes and illustrating the wall)
‘Beside their colored shadows’ by:
Tasneem Al-Omari – Resident Artist
If the milestones in Tasneem’s life can talk, they’ll be the ones leading the introduction without any titles. As a child, Tasneem’s ability to scribble and color was good enough to be recognized. “To tell you the truth it feels good to be good at something and have passion for it” she says, therefore she obtained her BA in applied art, majoring in industrial design. “This experience was mind-opening, to learn how art can integrate with science is like the heart getting united with the brain”. In her career, whether it was a job or voluntary work, she learned that passion to creativity can help anyone thrive in any field, “Your sense of details work like magic sparkles, and the recognition of the smallest acts impact will lead you to believe that changing the world is not a myth”.
Hisham Al-Khatib – Resident Artist
Is his own boss… Studied Graphic design at the University of Yarmouk in Irbid. An Urban Reflection is Hisham’s first experience in street arts, therefore he was excited for the experience and for the project as whole, as his last job was an executive officer at a graphic design company, this was a break. Hisham’s enthusiasm for the project had him invading the houses of the residents along with Tasneem, collecting shoes for their project ‘Beside their colored shadows’, “I got excited to do this art project, as it’s from the people and to the people…” he says.
Note: Tasneem answers on behalf of the team
Capturing the untouchable consciousness, in a visual form. Explain to us the significance of shoes to -the memories, desires and experiences of the people of Jabal Al-Qala’a
A shoe can tell a lot stories and experiences that are rare. How can I see through your shoe, how can you see yourself through yours as well. These neglected shoes give us an honest perspective to who we are and what our life look like. So come, let’s hear what a shoe can tell us! Let’s imagine the stories of people live in Jabal Al-Qala’a. We entered their houses, we saw them, we talked to them, and we explained our idea to them. Upon that we collected some threads of their lives and their stories and we put out in the street presented by their old tired shoes and a simple illustration of what we built upon. We created different scenarios so people interact with the variety that this mountain holds.
By taking the context of ‘take a walk in someone else’s shoes” and transforming it into the scene created of the two old people. What is the story behind it?
Imagining that you’re someone else was joyful in its own way. We believe that somehow its the core of communication. Indeed, it helps humanity to build a bridge and reaches the truth about people. In this case we’re building a bridge to people of Jabal Al-Qala’a. So the viewer/s would take same steps we took and come closer to them. And imagine the stories these shoes had come through. We believe this way will bond us as humans, Jordanians, and Ammanies.
Talk to us more on the choice of color used. Does it have any particular significance?
Yeah sure, this was one of the challenges because our visual is symbolic and we wanted to combine the whole three elements together without distract the viewers from the shoe, we chose one color to unite the figure and to focus on the emotion the color shows because it plays a major element in our art work.
The color of the mother is green like a tree. No matter how tired, big, or old she stands still and she will be always a shelter to her child next to her leaning on her.
The child on the other hand young and energetic but still shy and afraid of the world. We chose purple because its a mix of pink and blue. a symbol of a child no matter of the gender. The soldier sitting in the middle, dark grey and black, strong cold color shows domination and power, yet alone. And our favorite couple who are stealing a moment of privacy under the tree. They are so close but not touched. The tension of the closure is so reddish to not be noticeable that says a lot in our culture. How curious we become whenever we see love around. Beautifully this figure got the most picture and survived till the last.
What is the message you mean to tell curious viewers?
If our art made you curious to sit beside them, to have a picture with them, then you’ve walked the bridge to reach them. And you’ve found the invisible string that bonds people together.
What was the owners’ of the shoes feedback on the artwork?
Honestly we didn’t get the chance to capture their feedback personally after we have finished the art work ‘YET’. In away they didn’t seem excited to come to the opening (the housewives) But while we were in the process of collecting the shoes from them, they were pretty happy to participate and be part of it. Not happy enough to get them out of their homes to see it, but we are sure that they made plenty of conversations about it and maybe asked any one who passed the street if they saw a shoe looks like theirs. And who knows maybe they sneaked at night to take a look themselves. For us it was the most emotional and enlightening step of the whole project.
‘How to fill in Cracks’ by:
Shereen Quttaineh – Resident Artist
A firm believer in the power of art as a learning medium, Shereen
Quttaineh has spent over 14 years teaching children how to express
their imagination and creativity through different art forms.
Having worked with kids as young as toddlers in kindergarten and
currently teaching high schoolers, Shereen encourages her students to
explore different forms of self-expression. In addition to her
teaching career, Shereen creates commissioned wall murals for clients
in Dubai, Turkey and Jordan. Shereen graduated with a Fine Arts degree from Yarmouk University in Irbid-Jordan.
(Picture above, right: Shereen sits next to one of her projects 'How to fill in Cracks' who she worked with the kids of the area to complete)
Decorating and beautifying potholes, how did such an idea come to your mind?
Well, it was a mix of different things, really. I was taken on a tour of Jabal Al Qala’a by the lovely Nahla and Mike, and as I was hunting for inspiration for a potential artwork, I kept on falling and tripping on potholes, which isn’t strange or new for us in Amman. My attention was suddenly diverted to my feet! I just knew what I wanted to do.
Let me say it’s rather poetic, like adding fine details to a painting or accessories to an outfit. Your idea is the fine finishing of Urban Reflection. How has this impacted the kids from the area, being a helping hand in this beautiful process?
As soon as I started working on filling the potholes, children stopped to watch and asked if they could help. They broke up the tiles, mixed the cement and collected broken tiles and bottle tops from around the area. They started suggesting materials to be used and simply took over the project completely. It was great to see their enthusiasm and hear their input. They were very excited about such a simple concept. Most of it would go unnoticed by people, but you might just come across a mosaic filled pothole.
Talk to us more about the materials used, being from around Jabal Al Qala’a, the mosaic shop and its owner.
Like I mentioned earlier, the materials were mostly found objects from the streets of Jabal Al Qala’a. Freebies found everywhere. You don’t really need to invest a lot to create art or even find a solution to a problem. The mosaic shop owner was really helpful. He enthusiastically offered to show me how to mix the cement and got busy helping start off the project. Some of his neighbours made us refreshments to make sure we were fine as we worked.
Are the artistic elements meant to last for long? If so, how is it maintained?
The mosaic potholes will probably not last for too long, but they might act as a statement emphasizing the need to fix our streets and sidewalks. They might even inspire all of us to do some fixing of our own.
What’s the next step for your project?
You might pass across a brightly filled pothole anywhere in Amman in the future… You never know.