WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Strip

Children often share their experiences and emotions through indirect methods of communication, such as art and play. As a result, their personal accounts of war frequently go unseen and unheard by the international community. In WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Strip, Brian McCarty’s photographic works interpret children’s drawings and offer a rare yet fascinating insight into the contemporary experiences of Palestinian and Israeli boys and girls.

McCarty is an internationally exhibited artist and toy industry veteran whose postmodern integration of concept and character has earned his photography a prominent position in the Art-Toy and Pop Surrealist movements. Yet, 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. Since 2011, McCarty has worked with local humanitarian organizations in Israel and the Palestinian Territories, conducting art-based interviews with children who were severely affected by the conflict. Rocket attacks, air strikes, gunfire, and explosions were parts of daily life for this generation. With the help of specialized therapists and caregivers, questions were posed to understand the events the youth witnessed, and they were invited to create pictures of their lives and experiences.

Viewers of WAR-TOYS will see seventeen of the children’s drawings presented alongside twenty-one of McCarty’s photographs. Featuring locally found toys placed and posed in the actual locations described by the children, the photographs recreate shared fears and witnessed events while also documenting the plastic playthings available to boys and girls in each area. In the process of sharing their artwork, children would often reveal the details that were most important or impactful to them, but some elements were buried, as if to protect them. The viewers’ eyes will move back and forth from McCarty’s works to the children’s drawings, recognizing the similarities and differences, but most importantly, reading between the lines.

“By bearing witness through his artwork, McCarty provides the opportunity for otherwise silenced voices to be heard,” says Dr. Julia J.A.G. Byers, Professor of Art Therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. “He asks us all to reflect on the innocence of childhood when it is surrounded and thwarted by human suffering. He asks us not to deny its existence but, rather, to question how to play—with resolve and resilience—in the face of such reality.”

The exhibition also includes an immersive “safe room” experience inspired by the classrooms and bunkers McCarty visited in the region, complete with sound, furniture, and drawings created by children affected by war. “This exhibition is the powerful meeting between art and cause—process-driven images give voice to a war-torn area’s most vulnerable inhabitants,” says Catinca Tabacaru, J.D./LL.M., Curator of WAR-TOYS.

Tabacaru, who is the founder of New York-based Tinca Art, Inc., spent her early career working for the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Office of Chief Defense Counsel for the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In 2010 she founded and then served as the first Executive Director of Women’s Voices Now. This background in justice, conflict, and human rights informs and inspires her exhibitions.

From an evaluation from the University of Houston, Clearlake (Houston, TX) about WAR-TOYS: Israel, West Bank, and Gaza Strip:
“Because we have a limited staff, contracting out curatorial work is very advantageous to us. This way, the director can focus on fundraising, marketing, event planning, and overseeing daily operations of the gallery.” 

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Tour Schedule

WAR-TOYS is touring January 2016 through January 2021. The dates below reflect seven-week exhibition periods. Dates are subject to change; please contact MoreArt@maaa.org or (800) 473-3872 x208/209 for current availability.

  • February 5–March 21, 2016 C F Webber Gallery
    Ocala, FL
  • September 1–October 20, 2016 University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    Little Rock, AR
  • January 28–March 16, 2017 Woodbury Gallery
    Orem, UT
  • January 28–March 16, 2018 University of Houston-Clear Lake Gallery
    Houston, TX
  • April 6–May 25, 2018 Refurbishment
    Kansas City, MO
  • July 10–September 25, 2019 Marshall M Fredericks Sculpture Museum, Saginaw Valley State University
    University Center, MI
  • January 28–March 16, 2020 Gallery 210, University of Missouri-St. Louis
    St. Louis, MO
  • June 16-August 11, 2020 Sante Fe Trail Center Museum
    Larned, KS
  • November 10, 2020–January 7, 2021 Save 50% off rental fees.

Exhibition Details

Twenty-two archival c-prints, eighteen children’s drawings, collection of toys, and ‘safe room’ installation

  • Content

    Fee Includes:
    Press Kit
    Registrar’s Packet
    Programming Guide
    Gallery Guide
    Text Panels
    Narrative Labels
    Full Insurance
    Installation Instructions
    Custom-Designed and Built Crates

  • Curated By

    Catinca Tabacaru, Owner and Curator, TincaArt, New York, NY

  • Organized By

    TincaArt, New York, NY

  • Out-of-Region Rental Fee


  • In-Region Rental Fee


  • Duration

    7-week display

  • Shipping

    Van Line

  • Running Feet


  • Square Feet


  • Security

    Moderate A

  • Number of Crates/Total Weight

    4 crates, 1 tub/1,015 pounds

  • Insurance

    The exhibition is fully insured by ExhibitsUSA at no additional expense to you, both while installed and during transit.