tom stone was born on a train outside of mexico city traveling to puerto angel, oaxaca. his parents separated soon after his birth. he spent his early childhood with his mother communally in los angeles' famed source family; and after its dispersion, in various nomadic settings in hawaii and california.
a graduate of harvard university with a degree in computer science, he worked in silicon valley for a number of years in investment banking and in the technology industry.
he is an artist known for his deeply emotional iconic images. he explores the divide between power and prostration; the broken things in the wake of exercised authority, control and influence. this motivates his humanitarian photography as well as his commercial and entertainment work.
he has exhibited work in los angeles, san francisco, miami, and freiburg, germany. he has been published extensively.
his art shares tradition with the work of dorothea lange, richard avedon, diane arbus and sebastião salgado.
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.