Written by Lamia Al Saket

Executive Director
Musa AlSaket Cultural Center

The Salt Children’s Park project is a community initiative led by the Musa Al Saket Cultural Center (MSCC) in the city of Salt. The MSCC is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) established in commemoration of the late Judge and Head of Supreme Court of Justice. The Park is the first of its kind in the city of Salt. It provides a safe outdoor recreational space for kids, youth and parents alike. The Park was established through the support of the Jordan River Foundation, Mercy Corps, and Amman Municipality who assisted in the design along with private sponsors and banks that helped make it come about (The Inflatable. Co, Amman Ahli Bank, Artikid, Dr. Omar Abu Jaber, Toyota). After the construction phase, the Park was set up with playground equipment but was still very bare. Surrounding an outdoor theater in the Park was a huge wall that can be seen from any point inside the Park in addition to another smaller bare wall in the middle of the Park. The Ngo sought the help of Aseel Saket, also a volunteer and member of the NGO to help with gathering interested artists to draw the bare walls.

With help of Amman Street Art and artmejo, a shout out was done to interested artists. In total, around 10 artists responded of which 7 women were selected based on the drawings submitted. After reviewing each drawing, we sat with Aseel and Amman Street Art to find a way to collaborate the different drawings and different themes into one harmonious mural with a unified color scheme consistent with the Parks’ logo to help with future public branding. Aseel and Aya Mubaydeen collected the very well done individual sketches from the seven selected finalists: Dalal Mitwaly, Mais Hassouneh, Jude Khatib, Eman Nashashibi and Dina Malkawi and combined the sketches into one mural that kept each of the artists unique contribution as each brought forward in their individual sketch her own unique style, also adding themselves drawings to bring it all together. The artists were all extremely happy with the final combined mural.

Finally, the work on the Mural started with firstly outlining the mural on a wall that was around 33 meters in length and 4 meters in height. This was really challenging in the beginning, especially as none of the artists had ever done a mural before and also the funding only allowed for the use of industrial wobbly ladders to reach the maximum height of the wall. Luckily volunteers pitched in to help and we were able to reach out to a professional Muralist who goes by the name ‘DAAS’ who offered technical advice on how to scale an art piece onto such a big space. His support as an internationally acclaimed muralist gave the artists a push and confidence to start. The artists Amani Hyari and Hyam Ghazal had their own corner perpendicular to the mural where they did some stenciling of motivational quotes and were also assisted by the other artists. The professional artist Yara Hindawi was given the other empty space in the middle of the Park and contributed her own wonderfully unique mural using spray paint.

The team that we eventually called the “Dream Team” took four executive weekends to finish the work. They positively engaged the youth volunteers from the center as well as children from the neighborhood who helped as well. They worked together in outlining, mixing the colors, and filling in the huge spaces around each of their individual drawings. The experience was truly amazing and bonds were created between the artists, volunteers as well as the local community. Especially among the artists who had never met before, some became very good friends after the project.  The final result was just beautiful. It was extremely heartwarming to hear feedback from the artists such as: “I’m so happy I got to know strong and beautiful women like yourselves” and “I am so happy and grateful for such an opportunity and love you all”. This was the first experience for most doing a mural, so was a learning experience as well, where one artist was selected for the Baladak project after this experience as it helped her gain skills for bigger more challenging murals. She commented “I’m beyond honored that my first critics are going to pass by whenever they’re taking a break from playing by the swings and slides. Thank you Salt Children’s Park for this opportunity”. Another artist mentioned: “Last week, I had the wonderful opportunity to paint at the Salt Children’s Park thanks to Amman street art and artmejo-it’s my first time painting a non-goist and while I was a bit scared to do so, I’m happy with the outcome and looking forward to painting a lot more”.  It was nice to see the professional and volunteer artists so happy to be on board working together and along one another.

From the NGO and community side, the smile on the children’s and youth’s faces visiting the Park and those who attended the opening day and their pleasant surprise walking in, was more than what we had hoped for. The word “Magic” was painted on the stenciled wall in the Park, and this word pops out at us each time we recall the experience as it was truly magical. Just like a sunset can be so moving and magical to look at, the artists that came together to beautify the empty walls in Salt Children’s park, were able to create a unique and magical experience inside the park that did not exist before.  The mural added life, hope and personality to the Park making it much more inviting. No one walking in can miss this feeling. It was a true reflection of hard work, dedication, talent and love for a good cause. We feel proud that Jordan’s artists and youth have such capabilities and a love for giving and are extremely grateful for this wonderful experience.

We sincerely thank artmejo, Amman Street art, and all the artists and donors and volunteers who helped bring the Park to life.

All images courtesy of Lamia AlSaket except where indicated