Artist of the Day #7: Brian McCarty

The Art I am discussing today does not all come under the direct creation of one person, but rather under the direction of one. This is all from an interesting collaborative project from someone formerly best known for his photography of toys. Brian McCarty guides the minds and life experiences of youth in Palestine and Israel to confront some real issues through a project he has titled, War Toys.

McCarty is trying to tell the story of people who have never not known what it is like to live in a warzone. Here is his basic process for the project: With help from translators and special therapists he has children in these areas illustrate some of the scenes they have come across in their life-time. He then takes these illustrations, and reinvents them using locally purchased toys, and his own special ability to photograph.

My first reaction to this work was a slight feeling of discomfort. The idea of representing horrible acts of war and violence with toys seemed insensitive and in bad taste. But after I let the idea sit with me some time, I realized that perhaps this was the exact point the artist was trying to make. I mean war is a disgusting thing no matter how you put it. We are used to seeing the glorified pictures of soldiers putting up a flag, and think that this is the way to represent war, but that is simply not looking at the reality. I think perhaps McCarty is trying to draw some parallels to the way our children play with these violent toys, and the way that these same toys are available in these actual war-ridden areas. Children in America play with these toys and it is based mostly on imagination and what they see in movies. Israeli and Palestinian children can play with these toys and recreate what they saw that morning.

If you still feel uncomfortable with the work, at least try to take comfort in the fact that he is bringing some aid and attention to a needed cause that might not have gotten it elsewhere. It is bringing to light an important perspective on the chaotic situation between Palestinians and Israelis, the perspective of the future, the children who will be running the countries tomorrow. In addition, he is validating and fostering the creative spirit of children that are likely not getting the support elsewhere. Learn more about the project and get updates on when and where the project will be exhibited at: http://www.wartoysproject.com/index.html

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