In the small village of Kharja, Jordan just ten kilometers from the Syrian border, artist Jonathan Darby painted a mural titled “Strength“, curated by aptART (Awareness & Prevention Through Art), with the support of Mercy Corps.
The Story Behind The Mural
In the village of Kharja, Jordan, just ten kilometers from the Syrian border, a women’s gym stands as a meeting place and community space for Jordanian and Syrian the women. The gym was built with the support of Mercy Corps and holds exercise classes, provides workout machines, and creates an environment for women to strengthen themselves and their bonds with one another.
A meeting was held with the young women who attend the gym to discuss the issues of most importance to them in their community. Topics were addressed such as the meaning of strength and being a woman. Ideas about leadership, community bonds, rights, resilience in adversity, and education were written down on paper and then discussed in a group. The women then painted their ideas across the wall, flanking a woman painted by Jonathan Darby. The image of a strong woman with the community’s messages stands as a beacon of inspiration for not only the women who attend the gym but for all who pass by.
About The Artist
Jonathan Darby spent his youth at a Rudolf Steiner School. Having no A-level qualifications Jonathan was offered an unconditional place in Central Saint Martins, London. In 2008 Jonathan graduated with a BA Honours in Fine Art. Jonathan’s artistic concern deals with socio-political and humanitarian themes. His work portrays people in a cultural context where the innocent and vulnerable have been impacted by forces of social, economic and political change. His focus is on children, as he believes they can and will determine the future. The experiences they encounter now may have severe consequences for them and the future of their society. Contrasting elements of softness and beauty against severe brutalities, Jonathan’s paintings are both seductive and harsh in their subject and technique. Using an array of different media with two and three dimensional elements, the paintings consist of smooth layers of paint contrasting with rough, reworked textures.
Jonathan has been working with children’s charities and is increasingly furthering this course of action.
Awareness & Prevention Through Art (aptART) is an organization of artists and activists. aptART aims to share with conflict affected and marginalized youth an artistic experience alongside the opportunity to express themselves. The organization creates outlets to build awareness and promote prevention about the issues affecting people’s lives. In collaboration with local and international organizations operating on location, artists and activists coordinate workshops with youth from different communities. The workshops culminate in large-scale public art as well as individual pieces. The workshops and art focus on issues affecting communities with messages of positivity and hope.
Exhibiting both locally and internationally, aptART displays work created by children and artists participating in projects. Proceeds from the sales of photographs and children’s works are returned back to AptART to fund future projects. aptART has worked with youth in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, DR Congo, Mozambique and Europe.
Projects are made possible by the support and collaborations of Mercy Corps, War Child, ACTED, Skate-aid, Make Life Skate Life, UNICEF and the European Commission – Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection (ECHO.) Collaborating artists include HERAKUT (Germany), Ruben Sanchez (Spain), Jonathan Darby (UK), Jumana Hokan (Syria), Yusra Aljabari (Jordan), Joel Bergner (US), Max Frieder (US), Ali Kiwan (Syria), Safeen Othman (Iraq), Bethany Burgoyne (UK), Screw Crew, (Jordan), Alesh (DR Congo), Luc van der Walt (South Africa) and Samantha Robison (US).
About Mercy Corps
Founded in 1979, Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian organization empowering people to recover from crisis, build better lives and transform their communities for good. Since 1979, Mercy Corps has provided $1.7 billion in assistanceto people in 107 nations. Their global programs are supported by headquarters in North America and Europe and field offices in some of the world’s most troubled and challenging regions. Powered by the belief that a better world is possible, the organization helps people survive and get back on their feet when natural disaster strikes, economies collapse or conflict erupts. And where there are chronic threats to peace and progress, they partner with communities to overcome obstacles and thrive.
Mercy Corps lives and works in more than 40 countries facing the world’s toughest challenges with no political or religious agenda. For more than three decades, they’ve learned and grown alongside extraordinary people—more than 190 million individuals who understand their own needs better than anyone else. Their experience shows they are best able to strengthen their communities from within. In everything they do, they look for moments of transition to connect people to resources and expertise that can catalyze transformative change.
“Our mission is to alleviate suffering,
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