To collaborate with children directly affected by conflict, “toy photographer” Brian McCarty has been traveling to war zones and refugee camps as part of an ongoing personal project titled WAR-TOYS. Under the care of international NGOs and guided by specialized therapists, girls and boys become art directors for Brian’s photographs of locally found toys – placed and posed on location to recreate shared fears and witnessed events.
￼The process of creating this photo essay provides the narrative thread for a documentary feature film about children’s experiences of war. The film will center around individual children, the art therapists helping them communicate and cope, and the affected communities where they live.
Footage seen above was produced in early 2011 during Brian's first trip to the Middle East. Since then, he has returned to the region to collaborate with children from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
WAR-TOYS is intended to be apolitical and neutral, showing war from the perspective of innocents. To a child, whomever is shooting at them is the “bad guy,” plain and simple. Trying to make sense of it while struggling with the resulting trauma is how cycles of violence perpetuate and grow. By looking at these children’s accounts through a consistent approach, vast differences in culture and beliefs disappear, leaving a shared human condition and basis for understanding.