Leap into an ocean of plastic with Iraqi artist Maria Nissan

With plastic pollution and climate change at the forefront, it’s not surprising that artists are looking at our waste from a new perspective and creating powerful works of art that are not only beautiful but also serve as vivid reminders of the effects of our waste on the planet and its people and inspire us to rethink our own consumption.

Let’s take a look at how Iraqi artists based in Jordan create art not for the sake of art but for the planet’s sake by highlighting the plastic pandemic through heavy use of waste.

Maria Nissan is an Iraqi environmental artist and holds an MFA degree from Studio Arts College International in Italy in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in art education and a minor in painting and drawing from the University of Georgia. She taught art at the Athens Academy and worked as a ceramist for Winterhawk Pottery before moving to Italy.

Her work creates experiences through the transformation and manipulation of recycled and organic materials.

Since moving to Jordan, she has continued to create installations and drawings from waste materials in the local Ammans community. She has shown the work in various gallery spaces across Amman.

My passion is turning garbage into art to challenge the behavior of our consumers and their impact on the environment.

Strolling the streets of Amman can be a trip full of rubbish.

My eyes can’t turn away from the abundance of shiny plastic bags, glass bottles, beverage cans, candy bar wrappers, styrofoam, etc. My desire to scream out my frustration at seeing such an incredible city tirelessly covered in garbage drives me to become an agent of change and no longer a spectator of the present.

Jordan is facing a major environmental disaster.

In Aqaba we can see all forms of plastic under dying corals. Other natural environments are also badly affected, such as the Wadis Nature Reserve and Wadi Rum, where you can find places where huge amounts of trash are dumped from prying eyes.

She knows that she cannot solve any of the above problems, but her art can bring the environmental crisis back to the table of Jordan’s greatest challenges.

My recent participation in the Art Recycling Festival 2021 gave me the unique opportunity to build an immersive installation called Plastic Ocean to shed light on the environmental impact plastic has on the ecosystems and biodiversity of Jordan in general and marine life in particular.

Her goal is to continue using art as a wake-up call to the way people consume and how garbage is managed in Jordan.

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