“War Toys” project documents children’s view of conflicts using toys
posted Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 2:24 PM EDT
The impact of war and ongoing conflict on children can be horrific — but one photographer is doing his best to help those affected by conflict by combining his own photography expertise with the principles of art therapy. The project is called War Toys, and in it photographer Brian McCarthy recreaties children's drawings of war out of off the shelf toys.
McCarthy teams up with local and international NGOs, and with their help he works with children, first to have them draw their experiences, and then getting them to help him recreate those images through photography. McCarthy isn't going off half-baked on this either. He is supported by experts in the field of art therapy and psychology, who aide him in his work. His artist's statement about the project is an excellent read, and it shows just how important the collaborative aspect of this project is.
War Toys has been running since 2011, and the project is eventually meant to include children from Colombia, Sudan, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. The first volume of the book is set to be published later this month, featuring two years of work with children in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
The juxtaposition of these extremely cheap toys against the horrors of war is a very difficult one to deal with — double so when you realize that they're being used to recreate the experiences of a child. But it's that horror contrasted with objects of play that makes the series so incredibly powerful.