The Arab Spring reached Syria in March 2011 after a group of youth took cans of red spray paint and scrawled “The people want the fall of the regime” across a wall in the southern city of Daraa. The piece of graffiti was one of the sparks to ignite the Syrian uprising, which has now escalated into a devastating civil war. Since the conflict began, almost 150,000 Syrians have been killed, more than 6.8 million have been displaced, and 2.2 million have fled to neighbouring nations.
The Kingdom of Jordan has opened its borders to almost 600,000 individuals displaced by the fighting in Syria. In recent history, Jordan has provided refuge for millions of people seeking safety from conflicts in neighbouring Palestine, Iraq, and now Syria. Providing asylum to millions of refugees has put strain on the resources, infrastructure, and economy of Jordanian communities.
AptART in association with ACTED with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Humanitarian Aid department of the European Commission (ECHO) implemented an 8-week street art project in host communities in Northern Jordan. Involving almost 1,000 youth, more than 25 pieces of public art were created with 10 different communities in the governorates of Mafraq, Irbid, Jerash and Ajloun.
This project in host communities will be followed by a 6-week project inside Zaatari refugee camp, supported by the same organisations. Both projects will culminate in a national and then international exhibition of photographs documenting the work and original canvasses created by the youth participants and instructing artists.
CHILDREN´S QUOTES from the aptART workshops in North Jordan , March 2014
“I don’t go to school because the teachers are mean to me. I don’t know how to write or read, but I do know how to paint and how to draw because you taught me to do that.” Mohammed, 7, m, outside district 10 site office.
“My favorite color is red because it is the color of hearts and love. I want to draw cities. When I draw in workshops I learn a lot about colors and brushes. I have never drawn before. I am happy to learn here.” Zaynab 10, f
“I could not draw before. It is a new thing to draw and have colors. Today I learned to draw a bird.” Huda, 8, m
“I love to paint sunsets and nature with green, blue and orange. I want to paint everywhere. Painting makes me have fun and feel happy. I want to have all the colors. I am an artist. In Dubai and Syria and Lebanon they have art classes. I like to design my pictures with colors. In the future I want to be a famous artist with a gallery in Lebanon. They care about art there.” Mohammed Rasheed, 12, m
“I feel angry and nervous about my brothers. When I draw I relax. I like the yellow color because it is the color of the sun. Without the sun we will die because it brings the new day.” Mohammed, 11, m
“I love to paint a lot. It makes me feel relaxed. The red color is my favorite and here I used it to paint about friendship. My favorite place to paint was in Syria. There I painted things like flowers, hearts and the names of my family.” Yasmin,12, F
“When I draw I am an artist. I hope to be a famous artist. Already I painted a caravan in camp with tomatoes. I can draw anything you want. I just imagine it first and then do it. I like to paint alone.” Tabarek, 10 f
“My brother and I ruined the painting before. Now we helped and so we will take care of it. I want to paint again.” Mohammed, 12, m
“I painted a teacher because I want to be one when I grow up. My favorite part was getting to work with Seems.” Fatmah, f, 12
“I painted what I will be in the future. In my future picture everyday I will start painting in the morning. I like working with Reema because she taught me to be calm.” Mohammed, 12, m
“I painted a big tree like the one in Syria. I want to sit under this tree when I go back to Syria again. Also, I painted a big house with patterns on it. I loved to use the colors especially green. I would like to say thanks!” Hour, 11, f
“I painted a football game because I want to be a famous player. I like everything about painting and all the teachers. Thank you and please come to paint with us everyday.” Kahdegah, 10, f
“I painted a doctor because I want to be one when I grow up. I was very happy to painnt a lot. The painting is so beautiful.” Aha, 9,f
“I painted my house in Syria. On our farm, whiched I worked on with my grandfather, we had chickens, so I painted chickens on the wall. My favorite part was getting to paint my house in Syria.” Fattouh, 11, m
“We sent my brother and cousin to destroy the painting by putting mud on it. After Reema came and told us about the picture we felt so bad. So we fixed the painting with Johnny. Then we got to help draw on the wall and it made us feel important. Thanks to johnny. I like to watch him paint eyes. And thanks for all of you because you care about us.” Bashar, 13, m
“I worked in the ACTED tent. We had a lot of colors with Jumana. We drew flowers and my favorite part was being with Jumana. I want to say thanks for the painting. When I go back to Syria I hope I can paint there too.” Rowan, 11, f
“I painted my mom cooking. I liked painting her best. I would like to come every day and paint. My favorite is the red color. Thanks, and I really like Lucy!” Duaa, 10,f
“We liked the teachers and the colors. I came five times and I hope I can paint with you always. we like Lucy.” Shehed, 12,f
“This is my first drawing on the wall. It made me so happy to paint. Please, can you come everyday? I want to draw everywhere!” Rasea, 13, m
“So far, I have painted [with aptART] for ten hours. I like to paint flowers. Wait, I like to paint everything.” Asmad, 7, F
“I have painted four times. I like to paint kids. My favorite part of painting is the yellow color.” Rahaf, 14, F
“For my wheelbarrow, first I made a base coat with the white color. Then I added the green on the outside and purple on the inside. I started out using the stencils with the horse figure, fish and ball. Also, I added the rose and jellyfish. I am so happy, the team helped me paint. Now my hands are covered in paint and my father us looking at my wheelbarrow and he likes it.” Bilal, 10 m
“First we cleaned the wheelbarrow with water and waited for it to dry. I started with the dark green and and then put purple on the outside. It is good work and I am happy!”
Hammed, 15, m
“I like the idea of using stencils and tape [ on the wheelbarrows]. I have never used stencils before. I helped make the stencils and I was happy when the artist helped me. I feel like I am an engineer making something, like an important person in a factory. I want to thank aptART and I hope to see you again someday in Syria.” Abdtel, m 12
“I painted my wheelbarrow with my brother. I am not tired, it made me happy. We used blue and green. It makes me feel proud of my wheelbarrow. Thank you.” Talal, m 6
“I painted on a canvas. I painted my family, father, mother and the boys. I painted trees but my favorite painting was of a sun.” Nour, f, 11
“I want to thank you for coming and helping. I wrote my name on the wheelbarrow and painted flowers. I like the color orange and painted it on the inside. I am happy, all the people ask me how I painted my wheelbarrow. I say the artist helped me. People always pick which designs they like the best. My favorite is the eagle stencil. Again, good job and thank you.” Abdullah, m, 14
“I painted instruments [on the canvas] because it is a party. Also, there are some sheep and a mosque and a donky. I added people who are at the party. Jumana helped me think of something to paint and we practiced on paper first. Then she gave us paint and started making lines and filling in color. I am relaxed when I paint and this is the third time I have come to paint. The first time I came I made a map. I wish to be back in Syria but I am happy with you. Thank you.” Salhe, f, 12
“I drew during a workshop and we used paper. I drew things in the kitchen. I am happy thank you very much. I wish aptART could speak Arabic like us because we like you.” Nermeen, f, 10
“I made a stencil of my house in Syria. I don’t know what happened to my house.” Mohammed, 7, m
Streets of Zaatari
A short film by Nina Constable following AptART’s street exhibition, in Zaatari camp, to mark 3 years since the Syrian uprising began
Colours of Resilience
A animated short film by Hera for the 3-year commemeration of syrian uprising
The young street artists of Za’atari camp
Painting for peace
Awareness & Prevention Through Art (aptART) aims to give vulnerable children an artistic experience with an opportunity to express themselves as well as an outlet to build awareness and promote prevention about the issues that affect their lives. All children regardless of their circumstances should be given an opportunity to participate in the arts.
aptART first began its work in Mozambique developing art projects to help children address the HIV and AIDS epidemic affecting their communities. In 2012 aptART launched its first project outside of Mozambique branching out and into The Democratic Republic of Congo. In the DR Congo, aptART works with children who have been affected by the on going conflict to create art promoting peace and national unity. aptART also works with refugees both inside Syria as well as those who have fled across borders. In Jordan’s Zaatari Refugee camp aptART partners with ACTED, working with the over 40,000 children who now call this camp home. Zaatari is now the second largest refugee camp in the world as more people arrive daily. The work with Syrian youth is both individual and collaborative, exploring the mental and physical space of refuge. Together, the youth and their communities reflect upon the shared experiences of a shattered homeland while trying to create a colourful and uplifting environment inside the bleak refugee camps. The projects create a sense of ownership by scrawling messages and splashing colours across shared spaces from washrooms to schools to community centres. www.facebook.com/aptART-Awareness-Prevention-Through-Art
French NGO ACTED, founded in 1993, supports vulnerable populations, affected by humanitarian crises worldwide. ACTED provides continued support to vulnerable communities by ensuring the sustainability of post-crisis interventions and engaging long-term challenges facing populations, in order to break the poverty cycle, foster development and reduce vulnerability to disasters. Our 4,000 staff is committed in 35 countries to responding to emergencies worldwide, to supporting recovery and rehabilitation, towards sustainable development. Active in the MENA region since 2004 and engaged in assisting vulnerable Syrian refugees and host populations since the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, ACTED ensures continued access to essential human needs in Jordan, Kurdistan and Lebanon. More information on our website: www.acted.org/en
AptART and ACTED would like to extend their appreciation to all the organizations, governments and individuals who made this projects possible. UNICEF and ECHO for funding and support.
Thanks to NRC and UNHCR for providing recycled tent canvas to paint, local government officials for providing security, the private wall owners for giving us their buildings as a canvas, REACH for providing maps and statistics to inform our work and all the Syrian and Jordanian communities for their participation, enthusiasm and relentless hospitality.
Thanks to Dr. Robert Bock for giving the exhibition a home in Frankfurt at the AusstellungsHalle, and thanks to Kulturamt Stadt Frankfurt am Main for supporting the workshops and live-talks during the show.
Further thanks thanks to Peter Feldmann for being patron to the exhibition in Frankfurt, to Tracey Shelton, Ruba Alkudsi and Bernd Mesovic for sharing their knowledge at the live-talks, to the musicians Mehmet Ungan, Hank Philips Jr. and the band Lalla Chaouen, to Dr. Michele Sciurba for allowing the use of text material edited by Faust Kultur, to our friend Bernd Kammerer from Journal Frankfurt, Petra Stamm from Stoffwechsel Gallery, Petra Wagner, Kulturamt Mannheim, and Hassia Group and, of course, Montana Cans for the kind support in Frankfurt.
COVERAGE OF THE PROJECT prior to the show in FFM