This project is a visual documentary combining photography and drawings that seeks to help the public connect with the refugee children — while giving something back to the kids! It is an effort to show the world the effects of war on children in a way that parents everywhere can relate to. And, we know our work has brought joy and healing to the children we met — they told us so.

The portraits and drawings you see come from Syrian schools in Turkey and Lebanon. We photographed hundreds of portraits of Syrian children who participated in the art classes and art therapy sessions we organized. The photos were taken in the schools (and in a tea garden) with the permission of children, their parents, and school administrators. The drawings were made by the children you see.

We hope this project will raise awareness of how war affects children, and we hope it will change how you think (for the better) about the Syrian refugees, in particular.

The reception of these pictures has been amazing, and our plan is to bring more art to more children in the future, to continue to teach and photograph. Please join our email list so we can keep you informed.

We learned from this project that for these kids, who feel powerless and who have very few ways to express their feelings, discovering a safe form of self-expression is not just a diversion from the chaos and struggle of their daily lives, it is necessary to keep sane!

Art is important. It’s not like wasting time. Before, it was nice to have art. Now, it has a new mission. In this situation, art has a greater value. Before the revolution, we had art classes. It was important, but not a big deal. But now, it is important. This is the door, the way, the window to take feelings outside. This is important.

– Khalid Eid

About the App

Inside-Outside iPad


To install, open this page on your iPad then tap here to get the Free App.

The app is where you will find portraits, drawings, and essays — this website shows only a small part of what’s in the app. The app tells you the stories behind the drawings, the schools, and the reporting trip. Please, download it to your iPad and tell your friends!

Here are some sample pages from the app:

inside-outside-01  inside-outside-02

 inside-outside-05  inside-outside-07

See, the Inside-Outside Project App is more than a digital book. It is an expandable publishing platform for multimedia advocacy. As we get new art and stories, we will be adding new booklets to the app.

The app now showcases photography, art, stories, and essays. It is also a medium for sharing people’s lives, beginning with the Syrian refugee children in our project from Turkey.

  • “If you’ve ever, even for a second, doubted the pain — and resilience — of children exposed to war, violence, death (the real kind) please take a moment and look through this amazing project….”

    Sandra (1)
  • “All over the world we have put politics, agendas, money ahead of these kids: in the end we reap what we sow.”

    Sandra (2)
  • “I hold my babies close and I cry for the parents of so many of these children…. We are ALL human. How easy we forget.”

    Sandra (3)
  • “Seeing a young Syrian refugee portrayed in the style of a Rembrandt painting is a visual break from the conflict images we’re used to….by casting these subjects in a new light, we might also begin to see them that way.” ( more )

    National Geographic Proof


If you want to help out, please consider working with our partner, Solinfo. They are a French-registered, official non-profit organization, and they have agreed to accept donations to be used for Syrian children.

Now is your chance to help Syrian refugee children: Solinfo is crowd-funding to support their art classes inside the war zone in Syria.

Their mission is simply to allow children in need to make art. They have no political agenda, and they do not take sides. Since 2012, Solinfo has supported art workshops in villages, refugee camps, and schools in Syria and Turkey. Solinfo provides art supplies, teacher training, and small stipends for the teachers. They support all kinds of artistic events for children, holding exhibitions of the children’s art, providing costumes and sound systems for theater, or renting a space.

Go to the Solinfo website in French or English to see how you can help: www.solinfo-asso.com


Photos & Drawings

Syrian Portraits
Photography / Portraits
Syrian Drawings



RightsCon is the world’s leading event convened around the issues of the internet and human rights. The annual conference convenes business leaders, visionaries, technologists, legal experts, civil society members, activists, and government representatives from across the globe on issues at the intersection of tech and human rights. Inside-Outside was the exclusive art exhibition.

19 Million Project

The 19 Million Project is an international program to bring together media and advocacy, born from a collaborative effort between Chicas Poderosas and La Coalizione Italiana Liberta e Diritti (CILD). It is sponsored by the multi-platform media networks, Univision and Fusion.
[Blog Posting]

World Affairs Council

The prestigious World Affairs Council of San Francisco is hosting an exhibition of more than 25 large photos and drawings. The exhibition opened with a packed lecture by David Gross.

[Event Announcement]


Experience The Horrors Of The Syrian War Through The Eyes Of Kids: A new iPad app features the drawings of refugee children. Some are disturbing, while others are just regular kid drawings of hearts and smiley suns.

[ See Article ]

GIZ Conference

Four portraits were shown at the Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation, Federal Minister for Economic Development and Cooperation Gerd Müller and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in Berlin, Germany. The pictures were seen daily by UNICEF, German ministers, diplomats, and visiting foreign heads of state.

[ Conference Info ]

National Geographic Proof

Seeing a young Syrian refugee portrayed in the style of a Rembrandt paintingis a visual break from the conflict images we’re used to. For photographer David Gross, that’s the point.

[ See Article ]

Paris Match

Ces dessins d’enfants, «captés» par le journaliste américain David Gross, révèlent une vision originale, et déchirante, de la guerre en Syrie, qui a fait plus de 191 000 morts et 3 millions de réfugiés, en trois ans et demi.

[ See Article ]


They wanted to reach past the immediately visible, the “outside,” revealing the deeper impact that the Syrian civil war has had on these children. “I realized drawing was a way to show the one thing that photographers can only imply: the psychology of our subjects,” says Gross.

[ See Article ]

The Team

David Gross
Program Co-Director

Storytelling is David’s passion.

David is a journalist and award winning photographer with 15 years of experience covering stories from mass graves in post-war Kosovo to juvenile prisons in California.

He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he studied print reporting, radio, and photojournalism, with additional studies at the Human Rights Center in war, post-conflict, and international human rights. His work on mass graves in Kosovo won the prestigious World Press Photo award in 2003. He has published in major European and American magazines and newspapers.

He also works as an advocacy consultant, combining his journalist storytelling skills with digital design and software development to bring you projects like this one.

Mieke Strand
Managing Co-Director

Mieke is a portrait and documentary photographer who looks for the simple, uncomplicated essence of humanity in her subjects.

She has worked in locations ranging from San Francisco, California, to the heart of Botswana in sub-Saharan Africa. Much of her work to-date has been for children’s humanitarian organizations.

Mieke studied photography at the Rhode Island School of Design while completing a bachelor’s degree with honors in Visual Arts at Brown University. In addition, she holds master’s degrees in both Art History (U.C.S.B.) and Architecture (U.C. Berkeley).

Outside of photography and travel, her loves include ultimate frisbee, books, foreign languages, well-loved sketchbooks, and hats.

Syria Project Team

We visited four Syrian schools (and a tea garden) where we photographed hundreds of portraits of Syrian children. We used a formal portrait style to remove the sense of the difference, to emphasize the shared humanity of the subjects.

Khalid Eid
Instructor & Producer

When Khalid enters a classroom, from the moment he speaks the children’s faces light up with joy and wonder.

Before his joining the Inside-Outside project as an instructor, he worked with children across Syria in theater and the arts. He has organized more than 80 interactive performances for children around Syria, introducing them to learning-through-play programs, and he has launched a pilot program to teach teenage journalists.

Khalid is also an accomplished photographer. He holds a communications/journalism degree from Damascus University.

Ezgi İçöz
Art Therapist

Ezgi’s brings joy and concern, focus and levity, playfullness and mindfullness to her work.

Ezgi specializes in Expressive Arts Therapy, a style that integrates her passions for the arts and clinical psychology. She is solution-focused and uses many intellectual and spiritual influences. She employs visual arts, dance, movement, drama, music, and poetry in her work.

She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Expressive Arts Therapy from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. She studied psychology at Istanbul Bilgi University and wrote her thesis on Bipolar Disorder and Artistic Creativity.

Mohamed Kawsara

Mohamed has a combination of kindness and focus that makes him a joy to work with.
He worked with the Inside-Outside project to arrange art classes for students at the Free Syria school and for neighborhood boys at a local tea house. As a fluent English speaker, he was able to handle the coordination between the school, Tamador Alomor, and the project.
Mohamed is from Idlib. He trained as a software engineer in Damascus, and he is also a skilled graphic designer. He volunteered at the Free Syria as a teacher of information technology.
He is also, without a doubt, the nicest person on earth.

Tamador Alomar
Social Worker

Tamador is a social worker with a doctorate in sociology from Damascus University. She organized the art classes we held at the Free Syria school. She works at various schools and refugee camps in Turkey and Syria, helping children and adults.
Mohamed says that Tamador is the teacher most beloved by the children because she touches their hearts. She makes children happy in a very special way.

Privacy Policy

The Inside-Outside app is not designed to collect information from children under 13 years old (covered by COPPA) but from their parent/guardian using email. Even so, we wanted to be clear about how we use the information we might get.

The information we collect from the email the app creates is not identifying information. We designed the system that way on purpose. However, we are aware the email will contain the sender’s email address.

The app allows anyone who can use email on the device (the iPad) to submit drawn pictures via email, along with a first name, age, and city of residence.

The person collecting the information created using the app is David Gross, the co-creator of the Inside-Outside project. You can reach him at theinsideoutsideproject@nullgmail.com

The information contained in the email, meaning only the information created using the app, and NOT including email or email signatures, may used in future publications by David Gross, including websites and electronic books. The information will not be used for any commercial purpose.

However, the email address of the message may be collected and used to send messages related to the Inside-Outside project, the app, or to similar publication by David Gross and the Inside-Outside project. The email will NOT be used for any other purpose, not given to anyone else.

A parent or guardian may contact David Gross at any time, and may request all information connected to the email address used to make the request. We will honor any request by anyone to delete all information related to the email address of the request. That is, if you want to ask about a given email address, send your request from that address.

If you have any questions, please contact David Gross at theinsideoutsideproject@nullgmail.com, or use the contact form on this website.


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