The project


Artivism is international, non-profit organization to bring psychological survival skills to refugee children suffering from the effects of war, and promotes public awareness of the effects of war on children. The program has four parts: teacher training in therapeutic art techniques; art classes for refugee children; an art exchange program between refugee children and outside children; an internet archive of the children’s art.

Artivism is a program to teach psychological survival skills to refugee children. There is not enough psychosocial support for refugees, many of whom symptoms of trauma from their war experiences. The seeds of future wars is planted in the children of today’s wars, and Artivism hopes to bring easy to implement, low-cost, reproducible help to better the lives of children of war — to reduce the future effects of today’s wars.

Art therapy techniques are well-established, and there are many resources to build upon. In childhood education, art is generally an uncontrolled vector, free from many traditional and idealogical constraints. That freedom means it is an ideal way vector for teaching the kinds of psychological survival skills that trauma victims need to gain control over their lives.

The program has four parts: teacher training in therapeutic art techniques; art classes for refugee children; an art exchange program between refugee children and outside children; an internet archive of the children’s art.

The training program works with local teacher trainers who will educate teachers in the use therapeutic art lessons in many different subject classes.

Artivism art classes for children serve to give teachers hands-on, guided experience. They are also useful for testing and improving the methods and execution of the art classes.

In the art exchange, refugee children and students around the world create and share art and stories. The children paint postcards and write messages to each other.

The internet archive of drawings is a unique resource for academic research, training of art therapists, and dissemination of promotional and education material, namely, the children’s drawings.


The Inside-Outside Project: Children’s Drawings, Photography, and Stories from Syrian Refugees in Turkey

Our project is a unique and new kind of storytelling, combining the realism of photojournalism with the expressionism of art. We will travel to Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, collect art therapy drawings done by Syrian refugee kids, and pair those with our photographic portraits and interviews.

We will publish all this material in a multimedia eBook so we can share the art, photographs, and stories with the world. The eBook will be free: that is best way to reach as many of the more than 120 million iPad owners, a huge potential audience. The beauty of publishing an eBook is there are no printing or distribution costs — only the cost of making the multimedia eBook itself, significantly less than a printed publication.

Ultimately, our project will combine both emotion and image, giving voices to the silent and faces to the lost.


The Syrian Civil War has created over 2 million of refugees, over half of whom are children. These are ordinary people fleeing death and destruction who have left for the surrounding countries of Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Turkey.

Every day we see refugees from Syria on the Internet, on television, and  in the papers. As with every foreign war, the public finds it hard to identify with others so far away in such strange situations. We know this is true because there the relief agencies are still begging for money — small amounts by state standards — to help the refugees.

The project offers a new and unique perspective — it shows a situation through the eyes of both the subjects and the photographer. It does this by joining the children’s stories in their own images with our photographic portraits of them. The project will give you an understanding of the inner and outer selves of the refugee kids, thereby bringing you closer to these distant people in need.

Plainly put, the “big-picture” goal of this project is to raise awareness by connecting people to the plight of the refugees so they will support sending more resources aid Syrian refugees.

We want you to be part of this story.

About the Drawings

For at least 100 years, children have made drawings as a way to start conversations about their war experiences. Collections of such pictures go back to the Spanish Civil War.

These drawings speak a universal language: they are raw expressions of human experience, unfiltered by place, language, or politics.  They connect people across cultures.

They work in the same way photography works, but they are expressions of a person’s inner thoughts, not their outer appearance.

The drawings are immediate in the way a photograph is immediate, which is why pairing them is so effective and powerful. They are a straight line to an emotional connection.

We are funding this project via kickstarter. Please feel free to check out our video from the kickstarter project page:


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