Discovering Amman’s Hidden Colors

Lydia Shippen is a student at University of North Carolina, Wilmington and is an ISA Classmates Connecting Cultures  blogger corresponding with her Arabic professor at UNC Wilmington. Lydia is currently studying in Amman, Jordan on a Fall 1 program.

As I mentioned before, at first glance Amman is a city built of cream-colored buildings.  They seem to be stacked upon one another as you scan the horizon.

This is a view of Amman from Jabal Weibdeh, one of the artsy neighborhoods.

When considering art in Amman, specifically street art, you have to search for hidden treasures among the sea of cream.  Let me take you along on a search for Amman’s hidden colors in the Jabal Weibdeh neighborhood!

A snippet of Ammani mural art.

During the exploration, I came across a beautiful mural that is dedicated to the relationship between Jordan and Italy.  The two countries are connected through the remaining Roman ruins that lie scattered throughout Amman and the rest of Jordan.

The “Roma” side of the mural.

Down the street and around the corner I stumbled across another mural.  This one was of people in different poses on a red background.  The shirts all say “Ana” which means “Me” in Arabic.

Ana = Me in Arabic

The mural led to an art gallery that was filled with paintings, mixed-media, and photographs from all over the Middle East, mainly Iraq, Syria, and Jordan.  My personal favorite is the following painting:

I absolutely love the colors!

Outside and further down the street, there are small paintings and stencils that live almost unnoticed on the wall.

This is a city skyline of Jerusalem. The outline spells “Palestine” in Arabic.

At the very end of the journey, I noticed this poster:

Revolutionary poster art.

At first glance, this poster almost seems like an advertisement for a yoga class.  After further inspection you will notice that the person is on top of an army tank.  The Hebrew writing in the bottom right tells me that it is an Israeli army tank.  The Arabic in the top left roughly says “Resist” and the Arabic in the bottom left roughly says “The hard Jordanian movement is to break-free.”  Even if I did not translate the Arabic 100% correctly, it is obvious that the poster is a comment on the Arab-Israeli conflict (just like the Jerusalem city-outline above that says “Palestine”).

The majority of the population in Amman is Palestinian, the group of people that fled and were forced out of Israel during the 1948 and 1967 wars.  This happened only about 60 years ago and the Palestinians still feel a strong connection to a land that today, due to politics, is nearly impossible for them to return to.

Street art exists in every city throughout the world.  Whether it is in the form of stencils, graffiti, or murals, it all tells a story.  I encourage you to keep an eye out for local art wherever you go.  It just might teach you something about your own city!

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