A peaceful uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during the 2011 Arab Spring has, over the last seven years, exploded into a full-scale civil war that has killed more than 500,000 and driven 12 million from their homes, according to human rights advocacy group the Syria Campaign. The war has devastated cities and decimated civilians, creating a power vacuum that has allowed ISIS to thrive and ballooning into one of the biggest humanitarian crises of this century.

For Syrian journalist Marwan Hisham that has meant the death of close friends, the radicalization and polarization of his fellow citizens, and witnessing the violence of the state and other international actors. Once exiled from his war-torn country, Hisham became an outspoken voice on social media, rendering war into expressive language. He collaborated with writer, visual artist, and activist Molly Crabapple on the book Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War, which used delicate ink drawings alongside his personal stories to give readers a view into the world of a young Syrian coming of age during the turbulent last decade. Last year, the duo presented drawings and passages from the book together in an exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library, and now that show, Molly Crabapple & Marwan Hisham: Syria in Ink, comes to Haverford College’s Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery for a one-month engagement.

“Syria is perhaps the most widely documented war in history,” says Crabapple, whose work was inspired by Goya’s The Disasters of War. “But oppressors, whether they are governments or not, seldom allow cameras into the spaces where they inflict their oppression. The lived experience of those under them disappears into the memory hole. Thankfully, art is a slippery thing. It can evade censorship, make history visible, invest the hideous with beauty and the prosaic with force. It can reveal that which power would otherwise be able to hide. I seek to accomplish with my art what photos cannot.”

The exhibit includes over 50 original drawings by Crabapple interspersed with text in the voice of Hisham. With pen and brush, together they capture Syria from before its precipitous fall to its current state of crisis and mass displacement.

Banner: America’s Nightly Air Strikes, 2017, pen and ink on paper, 12 ¼ x 9 inches. © Molly Crabapple. Image courtesy the artist.