During the many wars that the Lebanese people have suffered, the country itself was battered and its infrastructure brought to ruin over and over again. Governmental and municipal services have been failing and basic functions like trash collection has been proving to be difficult. One neighbourhood on the outskirts of Beirut suffered the crisis more so than the rest. Ozai was flooded with trash, both figurative and literal. Deemed one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Lebanon, the problem it seems was purposefully left to fester. Ozai was forgotten - until the Ouzville Project came along.
Ayyad Nasser is a man that had a vision, he came along with his team, implementing a hands-on approach, painting a wholly new picture. They redefined the town's walls and turned it into a living art space. Murals began to stretch the length of the slum's narrow streets. Artists from around the world flocked and people who had no prior artistic experience began to join in on the fun. Marie Joe Ayoub came in with her students and started teaching them how to paint murals, effectively turning Ozai it into the world's biggest open air classroom.
Gaining an MA degree in illustration from Académie Libanaise Des Beaux-Arts, Ayoub received the tools and knowledge needed to conquer the Lebanese mural scenes. Not to be mistaken for graffiti, murals are considered to be fine art, not street art. Muralists usually posses academic education, or have at least apprenticed in the art under an instructor - an instructor like Marie-Joe Ayoub. Aside from her education, she continued her path in academia teaching at one of Beirut’s most respectable art schools; the Arts & Design department at the AUST (American University of Science & Technology).
Her students there have been accompanying her on field trips to Ozai, taking part in the beautification of the neighbourhood and its surrounding vicinities. Artists in locations over the world have been drawing street murals for years, but nowhere in the world has it been seen that an entire neighbourhood was covered by murals. It seems the movement succeeded in not only helping in the refurbishing of Ozai, but in also inspiring the residents to appreciate beauty. The once dangerous slum filled with drug dealers, murderers and thieves is now a cultural attraction, gathering visitors from all over the world united on one objective to create and appreciate art.
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