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When he’s not working on commissioned projects for clients like Cartoon Network and Disney, Toy Photographer Brian McCarty travels to war zones and refugee camps to collaborate with children who have been affected by conflict. Using a methodology based in art therapy approaches, Brian partners with NGOs and specialized therapists to give children an opportunity to art direct his photographs of locally found toys. The resulting images narratively recreate the children’s shared fears and witnessed events, often at the actual spot they occurred. Since 2011, Brian has collaborated with groups of children from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip under the care of organizations including the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Israel Trauma Coalition, Kayany Foundation, and Spafford Children’s Center. Work from his ongoing WAR-TOYS project has been published by The Washington Post, CNN, Wired, ABC News, BBC World Service, and dozens of other outlets around the world. Brian’s earlier work had the honor of appearing on the very first cover of Hi Fructose magazine in 2005.
Brian will be speaking about his experiences developing WAR-TOYS and working with children in the Middle East, sharing stories behind some of the more popular photographs (including one appropriated and altered by ISIS for propaganda). The talk will also feature Dr. Julia Byers, a consultant for the WAR-TOYS project. Dr. Byers is a full Professor of Expressive Arts Therapy and Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Moderated by Avi Santo, Associate Professor and Director, Institute for the Humanities at Old Dominion University.