An interesting photography exhibit by Brian McCarty is on display at Peanut Underground in the East Village (215 5th Street). The War-Toys project is an attempt to visualize the memories, experiences, and fears expressed by children from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel. These children affected by conflict depict these scenes in art therapy and the photographer assembled locally found toys at the actual locations described. What resulted are these beautiful scenes of childhood innocence ridden with the gruesome imagery of war. The photographs are on display through November 26 at Peanut Underground, accompanied by some of the drawings from therapy that inspired the photos.

In Brian McCarty’s artist statement, he describes the effectiveness of this method of expression at peering at the perspectives of children living this common reality:

Because cognitive ability is often ahead of language development, children typically share their experiences and cope with associated feelings through indirect methods of communication, such as art and play. As a result, their personal accounts of war often go unseen, even when studying its affects…Toy-surrogates are placed and posed in accordance to the children’s descriptions, integrated through forced perspective into the actual locations where described events occurred. Commentary is given on socioeconomic conditions through the use of locally acquired toys, seen against the conditions in which these children live.

Curated by Catinca Tabacaru, the exhibit in Peanut Underground makes very real the distant and oft-forgotten war-torn realities of the children in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Israel. Confronted with the images of toys, the viewer feels contrasting emotions: “The viewer’s eye may move back and forth from McCarty’s works to the children’s drawings, understanding the similarities, the differences, and most importantly, reading between the lines.”

Photographer Brian McCarty is an internationally exhibited artist and toy industry veteran based in West Hollywood, California. His postmodern integration of concept and character has earned his photography a prominent position in the Art-Toy and Pop Surrealist movements. However, McCarty’s work is often more akin to reportage than photo-illustration. His approach is grounded in documenting actual – albeit manufactured – moments of time from a uniquely personal perspective.  Most recently, War-Toys was highlighted by the Victoria and Albert Children’s Museum in London, England.

Head down to Peanut Underground and check out his photos until November 25. For more juxtapositions of the children’s drawings and the photos, check them out here.

 Brian McCarty, Peanut Underground, photography

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