Saturday, October 29, 2011
Tom Stone Featured on "The Good Men Project"
Congratulations to Tom Stone for his recent feature on "The Good Men Project"! If you would like to see some of Tom's images in person, please stop by dnj Gallery at Bergamot Station for a visit.
"It’s in the Eyes"
BY JACK VARNELL
Renowned portrait photographer Tom Stone shoots with a discriminating eye, but it’s the eyes he shoots that remind us of our mission.
A vital part of the Good Men Project is to model the behavior we espouse and discuss here, safe within the confines of our “Project.” It is all smoke and mirrors or bullshit if we don’t. The luxury of coming into contact with the people who share a curiosity about and willingness to openly discuss what it means to be a “good” man is only a part of the picture. We also get to see the integrity and feel the impact that someone who lives by a code, by a set of values and morals worthy of passing along, can have. Tom Stone is one of those people.
As a writer, I long to present the world with a point of view. A focal point that the world presents to me sent through the words. Sometimes words feel so inadequate.
Tom Stone has been creating connections in the communities he visits for years. On the streets with people who never share anything of themselves. Trips are planned in the coming months to Appalachia and Haiti. An acclaimed portrait photographer, he is able to tell the stories you normally might need words or a news photographer to tell if he was less talented.
We present a few representative works from Tom here, and would refer you to his site, Tom Stone Gallery, with the knowledge that a large part of his body of work is available for sale. In most cases the prints are signed, limited and a minimum of fifty percent of the price goes directly to charities he supports. A majority of the rest goes to funding the next project. Consider that as we enter the holidays.
I am including the Artists Statement from Tom’s Website because frankly, I haven’t ever seen a better one and to try and out do it would be dishonest and an insult to the man himself.
As you look at Tom’s work, notice the connection of one human to another; a connection in love, in compassion, and in awareness that the world is beautiful even in its ugliest places. It’s in the eyes.
I photograph people who skirt the edges of things; people whose connection to the broader flow is murky or obscured. Mistaken as more, less or different than they are; they aren’t really seen and don’t really belong. That’s everyone sometimes; but some more often. I try to establish a line for a moment. I hope to connect. And I see the most beautiful and the most heartbreaking things.
To my thinking, the original human trauma is our separation. We are too close not to need each other; and too far to trust each other. We rely on dubious senses and clever devices to interact; but we are alone in our thoughts. Lonely, insecure and uncertain; we pair, we group, we associate. We try to belong and we seek to exclude. We form bonds by geography, religion, economy and otherwise. But it is all precarious. We come together and we drive apart.
And we climb our ladder. We step away from those who don’t belong and help those who do. We are connected rung by rung—though less and less—as we push and pull. But some do not climb; and below, the earth is littered with them. They fit too poorly. They stand apart. They stand without.
And what of them; these ones who don’t belong or who are excluded; who don’t fit or don’t try? Is there nothing they value? Is there nothing of them we value? I count it as a measure of our ignorance, the depth of poverty in the world. It’s a glaring marker to how far we have not come. Yet it has also driven our advance; on less fortunate backs and against less fortunate fate.
But is there really no connection there? Does such fate—whether choice or circumstance—speak nothing of us? Tell me we do more than advance in place; with so many left behind. Or promise me we can do better. Say we can reflect ourselves; us and them. That we can see the ways we overlap and distinguish the ways we grow apart. And pledge that we can learn; to fit all of our misshapes; to reward value beyond charity and beyond the marketplace; to be better to each other; to be better ourselves. And promise me it could be a better world. Or tell me we are at our best.