West Hollywood-based photographer Brian McCarty is no stranger to toys; in fact he has been incorporating them into his work for the last 17 years. However in 2011 he came up with a powerful way to use them in WAR-TOYS, a telling project showing war through a child’s eyes.
McCarty has traveled to areas of active conflict—the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel—to explore what children experience in these areas and how it affects them. Using the principles of art therapy, McCarty works closely with humanitarian organizations and local institutions who help him interact with the children, and specialized therapists conduct interviews with them during which they are invited to draw pictures about their experiences. Using these pictures as art direction, McCarty recreates them in photographs using locally purchased toys, the scale naturally referencing a child’s perspective. He not only pays careful attention to how the child has described the particular experience, but he also sets his scenes in the actual locations the event took place.
Though a child may not be able to articulately voice the pain, fear, and trauma associated with living in a war-torn place, these drawings provide a powerful vehicle of expression in which we find that they have plenty to say. McCarty’s project is ongoing and he has plans to collaborate with children in Afghanistan, Sudan and Colombia.