When we think of art and Jordan, most think of the ancient beauty of Petra and traditional crafts like mosaics and embroidery, but did you know that Jordan has a thriving contemporary art scene? With its own design week and several contemporary galleries and institutions, Jordan should be on your radar as an art hotspot. But who are the women running the show? Well, let us tell you!
Princess Wijdan Ali
Princess Wijdan Ali is an art historian, painter, art curator and diplomat, who began her art training in the late 1950’s under Muhana Durra, the leading precursor of the modern art movement in Jordan. The writer of several books, Princess Wijdan is also the founder of the Royal Society of Fine Arts and the National Gallery of Fine Arts in Jordan, as well as the founder and dean of the faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan.
Nissa Raad @nissaraad
Nissa Raad was named after her celebrated grandmother Fahrelnissa Zeid. Predominantly self-taught, Nissa’s work is inspired by urban and natural environments. Her work has been exhibited in several shows in Amman and Istanbul, and she has participated in numerous group exhibitions both locally and internationally.
Abeer Seikaly is an interdisciplinary creative thinker and maker working across architecture, design, fine art, and cultural production. Her practice is deeply rooted in the processes of memory and cultural empowerment, expressing architecture as a social technology that has the power to redefine how we engage with- and within- space. She was a winner of the Lexus Design Award, for a performative structural system which explored the social implications of creating homes for displaced communities. In 2015 she co-founded and co-directed Amman Design Week and in 2018 established ālmamar, a cultural experience and residency program based in Amman.
Rana Beiruti is the co-founder and director of Amman Design Week, and the founder of platform, a curatorial initiative dedicated to building connections between designers and innovators in Jordan and the world. She was previously director of The Lab at Darat Al Funun, and was shortlisted for the Middle Eastern Architectural Personality of the Year in 2018.
Ala Younis @alayounis
Ala Younis is a research-based artist. Collaboration forms a big part of her practice, as do curating and joint book projects. Using objects, film and printed matter, she often seeks instances where historical and political events collapse into personal ones. She is a recipient of the Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowship, as well as art prizes from Cairo Youth Salon and Jordanian Artists Association. She is co-founder of the publishing initiative Kayfa ta, on the advisory board of Berlinale’s Forum Expanded, and member of the Academy of Arts of the World (Cologne).
Joud Halawani Al Tamimi
Curator Joud Halawani Al Tamimi curated Multitudes in the 2017 Arab Women Artists Now Festival in London. She then became curator of The Lab, the experimental space within Amman’s Darat Al Funun. During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, she co-launched Internet Of Things, an exhibition project facilitating a collective inquiry from (and through) the quarantine.
Hind Joucka @hindjoucka
Hind Joucka is the founder of artmejo, a platform that promotes art and culture in the Arab world through its online presence. Artmejo covers the local Jordanian art scene as well as providing art consultation and curatorial services.
Zaina El-Said @zainaelsaid
Born into a family of Jordanian artists, Zaina started her artistic journey by painting regional Arab culture and folklore before settling on collage and digital art. Cutting out images from magazines, fairy-tale books and posters, she creates surreal worlds. Her work has been exhibited in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.
Nisreen and Nermeen Abu Dail @naqshcollective
Sisters Nisreen and Nermeen are better known as Naqsh Collective. Founded in Amman in 2010, Naqsh’s work is synonymous with delicate finishings and fine machine production. The two sisters find inspiration from the contemporary simplicity and the traditional Arabic aesthetic combined together with high quality local craftsmanship. They have been nominated for the prestigious Jameel Prize and their work has been exhibited in several national and international museums, such as the Jordan National Gallery for Art, Jameel Art Center in Dubai, Al-Sharjah Art Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Saba Innab @sabainaab
Saba Innab is an artist, architect and urban researcher. She is co-founder of OPPA, an architecture and research collective. Her work examines the relationship between land and structure through materials such as concrete and metal. A project she worked on in 2013 – as an architect rebuilding the Nahr el Bared Refugee Camp in Lebanon under the United Nations Relief and Works Agency and Nahr el Bared Reconstruction Commission for Civil Action and Studies – was shortlisted for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.