If Syrian Refugees Can Make Street Art This Good, You Have No Excuses

A new exhibit at the downtown Mercy Corps Action Center shows the resilience—and artistry—of kids who've already survived a lifetime of war.

By Alex Madison September 23, 2015

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From Finding Place, now showing at Mercy Corps. Photo credit: aptART.

Is your summer art project still stuffed away in your closet, half complete? Perhaps things keep getting in the way of that photography class? No excuses! Hundreds of Syrian and Gaza child refugees are making you look like a schmuck, and here's the evidence: a just-opened show of their vibrant street art on display at the downtown Mercy Corps Action Center through December.

Finding place: Street art by displaced youth from Syria and Gaza, a partnership between Mercy Corps and the global nonprofit Awareness & Prevention Through Art (aptART), showcases artwork of children who have displaced from their homes due to disaster or armed conflict, often losing family and friends in the process. According to aptART, the majority of Gazan children over the age of seven have survived at least three wars in their short lives. 

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At the Mercy Corps Action Center for the opening of Finding Place. Photo credit: Adrian Smith.

The show features photo montages of the refugee camp youth, all under the age of 18, participating in aptART's recent art therapy project, along with images of their stunning in-situ mural art. Overheard at the Sept 17 show opening: “It's a mix of complete heartbreak and hope.”

One example of aptART's results is a group project that has painted giant pairs of eyes on gates, walls, and fences throughout the Zaatari refugee camp near the Jordanian border—home to about 120,000 Syrians who've fled years of competing wars.

The project's aim? Said aptART founder Samantha Robinson at the opening: “We are here to work to ensure the next generation is one defined by real progress towards peace, not by violence and hopelessness.”

Learn more about these youth here, or visit the Mercy Corps Action Center to see this triumph for yourself—and stare into the eyes of kids who'd give a lot for the luxury of completing that summer art project in peace.

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At the Mercy Corps Action Center for the opening of Finding Place. Photo credit: Adrian Smith.


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