Jordan’s plastic trash turned into art with a message

Published May 30, 2022
Maria Nissan, an environmental activist and artist, holds up one of her installations created from plastic waste collected from the streets of the Jordanian capital.—AFP
Maria Nissan, an environmental activist and artist, holds up one of her installations created from plastic waste collected from the streets of the Jordanian capital.—AFP

AMMAN: Jordan-based artist Maria Nissan is on a mission: to rid the world of single-use plastics and to raise public awareness about the environmental scourge through eye-catching art.

One of her best-known murals graces the side of a building in the capital Amman, a giant work made from more than 2,000 plastic bottles, almost 1,000 shopping bags and over 150 hookah pipe hoses.

A US citizen of Iraqi origin, Nissan said she became enchanted with Amman when she first visited three years ago, but also felt “frustration and anger” at the piles of garbage on the streets and in areas of natural beauty.

“Despite the beauty of the city, walking its streets can be a journey filled with all kinds of trash,” the 35-year-old said.

“My eyes cannot turn away from the abundant shiny plastic bags, glass bottles, soda cans, candy bar wrappers,” said Nissan, who occasionally sports a dress made from a sturdy blue Ikea bag.

Trained in painting and drawing in the United States and Italy, Nissan decided to collect and repurpose the trash to create art — often collages themed on women’s faces, flowers and Oriental motifs.

Her home, where she has a rooftop workspace under a large canopy, is filled with every imaginable kind of discarded plastic object, from razors and toothbrushes to lighters, pens and plastic spoons.

“Art made of plastic is a concrete and powerful way to raise concerns on environmental issues that affect Jordanians, their children, their communities and natural environments in the kingdom,” she said.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2022

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