Artolution's Syrian Refugee Public Art Initiative
As the Syrian War rages on, desperate civilians continue to pour across the borders into neighboring countries. While they have escaped the death and destruction of war, many refugees now find themselves in desolate refugee camps across the region. Other refugees pack into towns and cities, straining services and resources, leading to strained tensions with local populations. Lives are on hold and official work is prohibited. While international humanitarian organizations scramble to provide food, shelter and medical care to refugees, other critical needs often fall through the cracks, such as educational and creative activities for youth to focus on, trauma relief and mentorship programs. There is a lack of arts and culture that enrich the human experience and no platform for refugee voices to reach out to the world to tell their own stories.
To address these issues, Artolution has teamed up with Syrian artists and educators in the Za'atari and Azraq refugee camps in Jordan. Together, they facilitate workshops and public art projects with young refugees. Through discussions and art-making, Syrians explore social issues, their longing to return to Syria, their dreams for the future, and their plight as refugees. In host communities in Jordan, Syrian and Jordanian young people work on collaborative arts-based projects that focus on reducing tensions and promoting social cohesion between these two populations. Hundreds of children have had the opportunity to participate and add their own creativity to murals throughout the Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps and in host communities, bringing color and life to a desolate environment and spreading messages of hope to local residents.
Artolution supports Syrian refugee artists by providing capacity-building and opportunities to work in their field and to engage the youth in their community. In Za’atari Camp, the Syrian artist collective Jasmine Necklace has co-facilitated community mural and sculpture projects. In Azraq Camp, a Syrian artist team led by Mohammed Hassan Ibrahim has engaged dozens of children and teens through public art, and is now developing an arts-based mentorship program with Artolution and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Thanks to all our partners: The IRC, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the German organization GIZ, Mawada Initiative, the European Union and UNHCR.
Click on any photo to begin slide show: