Syrian Refugee Art Therapy Project – Chapter 3

Chapter 3: Mirrored Reflections of the Deep Blue

“Look behind us! Look, look, look… ” Lea Anne repeated as the last view of Aqaba dissipates into the distance. Our car set sail for Amman, up through the desert road, passing Wadi Rum and Petra, with a colorful skin disease covering our hands and our pants looking more like a color pallet than denim. We leave behind 4 murals, hundreds of smiles and thousands of blue that ripple through the Red Sea.
Only two days prior, we had completed the Compass of the Heart mural with the sun hovering two hours above the western horizon. We sat back to admire the painting for less than 10 minutes before collecting our equipment and migrating just across the dirt plaza full of 58 canvas festival tents preparing for the evening market. We set right back up in front of the dive shop and started right in. Among multiple propositions to paint murals throughout the city, Deep Blue offered an exchange… We paint them a mural on our free time and they take us scuba diving to explore a sunken ship in shallow waters…. Another dream come true! With great company we painted the storefront into the night: images of a manta ray, a clown fish, birds, the boat we would climb onto the following day and Sally the sea turtle who kissed our scuba instructor underwater. The commissioner of investment affair of Aqaba came into the dive shop and introduced himself. We shared with him the number of offers we have received to paint around the city and that it would be wise to develop a program to further develop the future artist and the demand has superseded the supply and the youth could make a living through paint. He was very intrigued and we will have a meeting upon our return. Sustainability is our goal and this is an amazing start!
At 11:17 am the following morning we climbed on board the Deep Blue boat and headed for the open water. It was not quiet “spawn”, Aqaba slang for “glassy waters”, but none the less, visibility was astonishing…think Caribbean, in the Middle East. We suited up, reviewed the safety skills out and in the water with Ommar, a highly trained and smooth Self contained underwater breathing apparatus (S.C.U.B.A.) instructor and then headed directly for the sunken metal ship. A miniature titanic rest on the bottom of the ocean floor with sea life growing off of the post industrial revolution “Noah’s Arc”. We could feel the glory days while this vessel was still afloat and now new life of every color and shape grows of its remains. Looking up from an unknown depth light fractals danced through the crystallized water reminding us of spinning pendulums reflecting rainbows through a window. Masterpieces can be found everywhere; life is art! Yeah!!!
I GFEDCBA. Can you read it? These letters were painted on from right to left earlier in the day on our final mural in the beautiful southern state of Jordan. In a world where it tends to be beyond easy to take the simple things for granted, Jackie was genuinely awe-struck when she realized that her 25 year old daughter, with the help of paint, wrote out the alphabet in order, written in the direction of the Middle East, for the first time in her life. “Don’t distract me Mami; I’m busy,” Lilly said while applying pink into the city scape. This spontaneous mural inspired many first time events within only a few hours… A truly heart warming experience and just when we thought it was time to wrap up in order to beat the incoming storm, an entire bus load of special needs arrived. We started painting on a single panel of a long wall and by the end an explosion of color brightened up six plaster panels with five Suns.
Often humanity is left guessing how one another feels because society has become experts at wearing masks of one emotion when we feel another, but it is so incredibly refreshing to work with the special needs because there is no need to wonder how someone is really feeling. If they are inspired you feel it; if they are angry, sad or happy you can see it, and they are overjoyed with the little things of life. “God is in the little things.” A boy dressed in a full military outfit from head to toe approached the wall, one cautious step after another, balancing with a walker. He lowered himself to his knees, wrapped his fingers around the handle of a paint brush and began to paint. His attentively of every brushstroke was deeply inspiring, and not only that, his line was impeccable and his imagination translated through paint created a child levitating in the sky. Incredible. With over 50 people painting at the wall, it was surprisingly quiet; creativity had entranced our party and the focus on decorating Aqaba rejoiced in our blood. Shadya, A woman in a wheel chair, stayed till the last minute outlining the flowers with incredible precision. The Colors of Love team were endlessly grateful for our moments painting with the special needs, AND all of the beauty we experienced in Aqaba!
Thank you to the beautiful youth of Aqaba, the municipality, Aaron Wagner & Voices of the Children, Chime in, OMAI, Art Miles, and all of you! Together we move mountains; together we are unstoppable!
Therapy Through Art Jordan – Colors of Love