Artwork by Washtenaw Community College student and Ann Arbor-based artist Therese Basha Jarjioura was part of a public art installation displayed outside The Rockefeller Center.
An international design challenge was issued by the New York City landmark, famous for its court of 200 international flags. Artists were asked to design flags based on themes of love, unity and diversity for The Rockefeller Center Flag Project.
Jarjioura’s art was one of 180 pieces selected from more than 1,200 submissions from around the world. From August 1 through August 23, the themed flags replaced the flags of the United Nations that typically fly around The Rockefeller Center’s famous ice rink and restaurant plaza.
Jarjioura’s design celebrates human diversity with the unifying title, Together We Shine.
“I chose the subject cultural diversity because it shows how all colors are equally important,” Jarjioura said. “When they are together, the colors look more vibrant, more beautiful and more interesting — just as it is in life.”
In addition to art selected from the competition, The Rockefeller Center commissioned work from 13 of New York’s most respected artists, including fashion designer Christian Siriano, sculptor Jeff Koons, visual artist Shantell Martin and musical artist Laurie Anderson.
“I am so humbled to have been selected, and to be in the company of such noted artistic talent is even more humbling,” she said.
Unfortunately, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jarjioura was not able to travel to New York to see her flag fly in person.
“I have taken solace in social media, where I have gotten to meet the other artists,” she said. “There are people from all over the United States and other parts of the world. We’ve had a great time getting to know each other and celebrate each other’s work.”
Jarjioura studied architecture and dabbled with painting before moving to Ann Arbor seven years ago, at the age of 45, after her second marriage. She saw painting as a way to become involved in her new community.
“I used to do some art overseas, but for fun,” she said. “When I got here, I took classes and decided to start taking it more seriously. I thought that if I was going to spend time and money, it should be toward a degree. Now, WCC has become like a second home.”
Jarjioura is pursuing an Associate in Art in Fine Arts Degree at WCC, a transfer degree designed to be the first two years of a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree.
A native of Nazareth, Jarjioura also lived for several years in Italy, where she found many great artistic influences. She is a member of several art organizations, including Ann Arbor Women Artists, and is a founding member of the group iMamas Artists.
A big believer in giving back to her community, Jarjioura has donated several of her pieces for auction to benefit various charities and organizations. In addition, she is a U.S. goodwill ambassador for the Nazareth Hospital.
As for her art, Jarjioura says her style leans toward impressionism, depicting the abstraction of real life using multiple media, techniques and styles, which she uses to match her art to her personality and moods. Her favorites are acrylic paints for work that is edgy; oil paints used to create tones that are soft and mysterious; charcoal for developing dramatic effects; watercolors for a free and transparent look; and pastels to create a child-like quality.