Making Jordan’s Trash into a Beautiful Thing

Samer Tallauze


Meet Maria Nissan.

Graduated with a bachelor’s in Art Education and with a Master’s degree at SACI College of Art & Design in Florence, Maria’s passion is about transforming trash into art as means to challenge our consumer’s behavior and their environmental consequences.

Since she moved to Jordan in 2019 she has continued to create installations and drawings using trash materials collected in Amman. Despite its unique beauty, walking Amman streets can be a journey strewn with all kinds of waste. During the first explorations of the city, her eyes could not turn away from the abundant number of shiny plastic bags, glass bottles, soda
cans, candy bar wrappers, styrofoam, etc.

Collecting plastic bags and other plastic scraps around her house, she started the same year a series of sellable framed drawings made of plastic focusing on different thematics (wildlife, sealife land pollution, Corona crisis, Arabic culture..). All of them having for the key denominator plastic and its devastating impact on natural environments.

If millions of tons of plastic end up in oceans and seas every year, Jordan is sadly not spared, as one we can witness swimming in Aqaba, seeing 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. Plastic microparticles end up in water reserves, spreading among livestock and agricultural products, especially in the North of Jordan, and then potentially end up on our plates (another reason to go vegan!)

Her artistic practice does not aim at directly solving any of the issues stated above but at bringing the environmental crisis back to the table of Jordan’s main challenges despite the economic and health crisis occurring in the country. Through her recent participation in the 2021 Art Recycling Festival, she was 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 marine life in particular.

Social media, galleries, and events offer to artists certain visibility but being an eco-artivist is also an everyday battle to find the balance between raising awareness on critical thematics related to trash and developing sellable services or art products to remain
financially independent and free.

One of Maria’s pieces for sale

Maria’s ambitions are to continue using her art as a wake-up call about the way we consume and how trash is managed in the kingdom as trash will never go away. It just goes somewhere else and sooner or later it will come back to us in one form or another. Buying a piece of Plastic Ocean installation is a symbolic environmental move but also a concrete action to raise awareness and prevent being confronted with plastic next time we go hiking in the Wadis or swimming in Aqaba.

You can follow Maria’s art on social media @MariaNissanArt & @microplasticsjo

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