Jump Into an Ocean Full of Plastic With Iraqi Artist Maria Nissan

Published July 18th, 2021 - 09:03 GMT
Maria Nissan
Maria Nissan (Instagram)
To be an artist is to navigate an ocean of creativity and horizon.
As an environmental activist, I see art as a cry from the heart that expresses itself to touch souls.

By Ewelina Lepionko

With plastic pollution and climate change at the forefront of everybody’s minds, it’s no surprise that artists are starting to look at our waste in a new way, creating powerful artworks that are not only beautiful, but also serves as a stark reminder of the impact of our waste on the planet and its inhabitants, and inspire us to rethink our own consumption.

Let's take a look at how Iraqi artist based in Jordan is creating art not for art’s sake, but for the planet’s, highlighting the plastic pandemic through the powerful use of waste.

Maria Nissan is an Iraqi Environmental artist and a 2018 MFA graduate from Studio Arts College International in Italy, with a bachelor's degree in art education and a minor in painting and drawing from the University of Georgia. She taught art at Athens Academy and worked as a ceramicist 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 trash materials within Amman’s local community. She has shown the work in various gallery spaces throughout Amman. 

My passion is about transforming trash into art as means to challenge our consumer’s behavior and their environmental consequences. 

Walking Amman streets can be a journey strewn with all kinds of waste. 

My eyes cannot turn away from the abundant number of shiny plastic bags, glass bottles, soda cans, candy bar wrappers, styrofoam, etc. My desire to shout out my frustration at seeing such an incredible city tirelessly cover itself with waste pushes me to become an agent of change and no longer a spectator of the present.

Jordan is facing a great environmental disaster. 

In Aqaba, we can see all forms of plastic among dying corals. Other natural environments are also harshly impacted such as the Wadis and Wadi Rum natural reserve where one can find places with massive amounts of trash dumped away from prying eyes. 

She knows that she can't solve any of the issues stated above but her art can bring the environmental crisis back to the table of Jordan’s main challenges. 

Through my recent participation in the 2021 Art Recycling Festival, I have been given the unique opportunity to build an immersive installation named Plastic Ocean to shed light on the environmental burden of plastic on Jordan's ecosystems and biodiversity in general and on the marine life in particular. 

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

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