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.
McCarty’s work has earned notable praise from such places as CNN.com, The New York Times, The Telegraph UK, L’Uomo Vogue, ABC World News, and XLR8R Magazine. In addition to spending nearly four years in-house at Mattel Toys, McCarty’s commercial portfolio includes commissioned work for Disney, Hasbro, MTV, Rockstar Games, Kidrobot, and Cartoon Network. McCartyʼs first monograph - Art-Toys - enjoyed several weeks on Amazon's bestseller list when it was released in 2010.
Upon earning his BFA from Parsons School of Design in 1996, McCarty accepted a grant to study at the Benetton-supported, creative research centre Fabrica in Treviso, Italy. There, he was invited to work on several prominent fine art and commercial projects, including KON©EPT, the first major photographic exhibition in Zagreb after the Croatian War of Independence. McCarty used the forum to explore so-called "war-toys" as both cultural artifacts and tools for gaining perspective on human conflict. This photographic study later developed into the conceptual basis for the WAR-TOYS project.
The children who participate in the WAR-TOYS project come from all walks of life. They live in refugee camps, remote villages, small towns, and thriving metropolises. They are ethnically and culturally diverse, speaking Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, English, Swahili, Pashto, and Dari. Yet, despite allegiances to different flags and beliefs, the children share similar experiences. Most have never known an existence without the near-constant threat of violence, ranging from missile strikes and machetes to shrapnel and gunfire.
Despite it all, the girls and boys who participate in WAR-TOYS are resilient, thanks in large part to the humanitarian organizations and local institutions who provide varying levels of counseling, education, and basic needs. By sharing their experiences through WAR-TOYS, the children advocate not only for themselves and their families, but also for the boys and girls without similar access to help and support.
Judith A. Rubin, PhD – Consultant
Judith A. Rubin, Ph.D. is a pioneer in the field of art therapy. She is the author of many books, including Child Art Therapy, The Art of Art Therapy, My Mom & Dad Don't Live Together Anymore, Artful Therapy, and editor of Approaches to Art Therapy. After her experience as the "Art Lady" on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (PBS), Judy has made numerous educational films, including Art Therapy Has Many Faces, Beyond Words, We'll Show You What We're Gonna Do! Children & the Arts, The Green Creature Within, Creative Healing in Mental Health, and Art Therapy: A Universal Language for Healing. h
Past President and Honorary Life Member of the American Art Therapy Association, Judy also served on the board of the National Committee – Arts for the Handicapped and the Task Force On the Arts for The President's Commission on Mental Health. Since retiring from clinical practice, she has devoted her energies to creating and disseminating films on the arts in therapy through a nonprofit organization, Expressive Media.
Julia Byers, EhD – Consultant
Julia Byers is a full Professor of Expressive Arts Therapy and Mental Health Counseling at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In her fourteen years at Lesley, Julia has acted as Art Therapy Coordinator, Co-Coordinator of the Advanced Certificate in Play Therapy, and Senior Advisor for the PhD Interdisciplinary Studies and Expressive Therapy programs. For the sixteen years prior, Julia was the Art Therapy Coordinator and Professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
Julia has provided workshops and lectures in crisis intervention and alternative therapies in fourteen different countries. She has spent twenty-three summers offering workshops and courses in Palestine and Israel. Julia has provided psychosocial and educational support for asylum seekers and refugees from numerous countries, including Uganda. In 2011, the “Somebody Project” that she facilitated was exhibited at the Victims of Torture Conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The project is currently housed at the UNHCR office. Julia has also authored numerous articles, chapters, and books on the use of the arts in counseling and therapy.
Kasim Al-Mashat, PhD – Consultant
An Iraqi exile of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Kasim Al-Mashat recently received his PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver. For his 2004 Master’s thesis at UBC, Kasim studied the impact of war on Iraqi children during “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Through the course of research, Kasim returned to his hometown in Iraq to interview children and investigate the impact that the war had on them, how they coped, and the meaning that they made of their traumatic experiences.
As a supplementary part of his Master's degree, Kasim became a first time filmmaker and developed a documentary short film titled The Other Reality. The film parallels Kasim's personal journey back to his home country, explored through video journal entries, with accounts of individual Iraqi children and the conditions they face.
Kasim’s findings have been published in the International Journal for the Advancement of Counseling. His research and expertise have been applied to interactive presentations on current conditions in Iraq and the deeper psychological, historical, and cultural causes that contribute to them. Kasim and his work were first featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program Early Edition. Since then, he has given presentations in both academic and non-academic settings, including an event sponsored by Amnesty International.
In addition to his research experience, Kasim brings his clinical expertise and experience to the team. As a registered counsellor since 2004, he has worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian social services.