Curated by Tom and Lauri Holmes.  On display from January 10 through the end of February. A reception is scheduled for February 9, after the Sunday Service.


This exhibit features artists who fled Syria eight years ago for refuge in the Zaatari Refugee Camp in Jordan which houses about 60,000 people. Some were professional artists in Syria; others were political prisoners, so they cannot return. They overcame many obstacles, even painting on canvas from tents that they lived in, after these were replaced with metal shelters. This art, which was born of much suffering, testifies to bravery and hope. Their work reflects the experience not only of migrant camp life, which illustrates the inner states of the refugees, but also reflects the wider human condition.

Tom, a psychologist, travels to Jordan and Egypt, offering “Healing the Healer” retreats for health and human service workers, especially people working with refugees. His trainings are based on a therapeutic approach “Parts Work” which is based on Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFS).

The adaptation of this “Parts Work” model to the Middle Eastern cultural context has given rise to the art. Tom and Lauri, wrote the book: Parts Work, An Illustrated guide to your Inner Life in which art plays an important role in communicating the ideas. The book describes the inner system, which is made up of various parts needed by the person to function, and is led by the “Self” which in optimal circumstances, guides the parts in a balanced way.

Since Islam is an important part of the culture the refugees come from, Tom discovered parallels between the “Parts Work” model and an important Islamic philosopher, Al Ghazali who wrote 800 years ago. He described the psyche of a person as a “Kingdom,” with the parts of the person represented as inhabitants with special roles to make the kingdom function. His description fits with how Tom teaches “Parts Work”, so a chapter is being added to the Arabic edition of the “Parts Work” book which explores these parallels. One of the artists, Firaz Alhomsi, has been especially interested in this idea, and has illustrated this chapter with drawings of the kingdom and of some of the parts.

The connection with these artists and their creations has been a wonderful gift in Tom and Lauri’s lives. They hope that the refugee artists’ courage and creativity will inspire others as we all seek to understand and support refugees in the world.

Leave a Reply