Bahrain, Jordan
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The Artists of WOWBaladk: Mariam Hajji

The first regional street art festival in the Middle East, WOWBaladk, finally concluded on October 11. More than 20 artists worked together in Amman, Jordan, creating works of art on the walls of the Ras Al Ain Gallery, under the theme of “Stories from Fear to Freedom.” We got the chance to speak with some of the artists, and, over the next few weeks, will be introducing some of them to you.

Today’s artist: Mariam Hajji from Bahrain

Why did you decide to participate in WOWBaladk?

Well, because it talks about women, and I’m passionate about women. When I heard about Women on Walls, I thought this was a chance to express that women should be allowed to pursue their freedom and their fears publicly, something that is not often done.

WOWBaladak Mariam Hajji Artwork
Mariam Hajji’s mural at WOWBaladk in Ras Al Ain Gallery

What was the message you were trying to convey in your drawing?

There is this issue of women often seen as either being immortal and holy, or very sensual and sexual. Even in my culture growing up, I had to be this super holy type of girl, pure and untouched, and anything else outside of that is horrible. So I was exploring this identity of just being. In my piece, a woman is wrestling a lion, and I realized that the first step into courage, is courage. You have to go in and fight that lion. You don’t know if you will triumph or die, and so “fear to freedom” is actually a process. You might come out of it, and you might not. Also, If you notice in the image, the woman is neither sexual nor holy nor sublime. You don’t get a feminine energy from the woman, but she’s not masculine either. She just is.

How has the experience in WOWBaladk been?

It’s pure. Everyone here has been so friendly, loving and collaborative in a constructive way. And this is my first experience with graffiti, as well. It doesn’t come with that bourgeois conceptual baggage of arts history, where certain things are academically expected. It’s pure, and I think this purity in creativity is really important, and it has changed me as a result.

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