From disaster, beauty. From loss, self-expression. This is the wonder “Cypress Memory” has conjured at the University of Jordan. The three-phase art project bloomed in the aftermath of Storm Alexa, which shattered over 1,800 trees in the campus’ historic forests under heavy ice.
But where most saw breakage, Fuad Khasawneh and colleagues saw a chance for creative regeneration. “We asked ourselves, ‘how can we make these trees into something artistic and beautiful, and turn a catastrophe into art?’” So the art professor put out a call on Facebook and Twitter, and on January 5, over 50 students, professors and staff began transforming the wreckage into a spontaneous sculpture garden.
“We worked with the trees for 10 days, from morning to evening,” Khasawneh recalls, with sculptures emerging according to each person or team’s inspiration. “We loved that everyone expressed what he wanted from inside himself, transforming this chaos into something beautiful and returning life to broken branches.”
Each of the 30 works in “Winter Memory” holds its own message about the storm and the state of the Arab world. Student Jasmine al-Kurdi’s addressed tyrannical power; Khasawneh’s piece, “Containment”, symbolized “how many people from different faculties, sects, and religions studied under these sheltering trees—as we’re all from one source, the earth.”
Public acclaim has been overwhelming. And when one sculpture was vandalized, artists created five more in response. “We are determined to keep working,” Khasawneh says. “All we need is financial support.” Phase two, “Spring Memory”, will commence February 3; pending funding, May’s “Summer Memory” will feature artists from across the world.
For more info – Fuad Khasawneh’s Facebook page