Syrian child holding a drawing of war
Source: UNICEF

The trauma that Syrian children have experienced since the war started in 2011 is unparalleled, and they often find it hard to speak about it. 

This is why alternative methods of healing, such as art therapy, are being employed to help kids on their journey to better mental health. 

One such endeavor was founded by award-winning journalist and photographer David Gross, who along with his team created the 'Inside-Outside' project. 

Through art classes and therapy sessions with Syrian kids at schools in Turkey and across Europe, Gross is helping many child refugees channel the war trauma in a way that helps us, the outsiders, better understand their suffering.  

The U.C. Berkeley graduate captures images of the refugees, but also through the art created by these children, is able to reveal what's going on inside their heads. 

Pictured: David Gross, Founder of The Inside-Outside Project Source:

“I realised drawing was a way to show the one thing that photographers can only imply: the psychology of our subjects,” Gross says.

Children were given various issues and were asked to draw pictures from their own perspective regarding the topic. 

Here are examples of how some of the students responded to the task:

Dealing with loss

Syria, drawing, therapy, David Gross
Source: Facebook
Syria, David Gross, Bombs, Drawing, Art
Source: Facebook

Life before, during, and after the war

'Bad things' coloured over with 'good things' to give them life

According to the photographer, when a young girl was asked to draw in color she was unable to do so because the world was "so terrible" and "black was the only suitable color to use."

With the help of her instructor Khaled Eid, the young girl was eventually able to add vivid colors to her drawing and translate memories of heartache to visions of hope with a paintbrush.

Students were asked to draw the future they hope for

From April until June of 2017, the Inside-Outside Project has followed the paths of the refugees on their way to a new home. 

The team began in Turkey and ended their journey in Holland, following the route of the refugees and stopping in each country along the way.

The “Inside” is seen in the artwork created in art therapy-inspired classes.

The “Outside” is shown with dignified, formal photographic portraits.It is a unique way to show the impact of war on children.