Thursday, August 22, 2013

Tierney Gearon's Family as Art

From Atlanta originally, Tierney Gearon was an aspiring ballerina in far away Utah when she was approached by someone from a European modeling agency. They liked her look. They asked her to drop ballet and to become a model. Gearon agreed. Gearon embarked on a successful career as a rising model.

TIERNEY GEARON - Untitled, From the Shapes Series, 2012Something unexpected happened along the way, however. As Gearon posed for photographs, she slowly became interested in the process of taking and developing the photographs themselves. She began experimenting with her own camera, taking shots of fellow models. When she showed some of her photographs to someone she knew in the industry, Gearon was surprised to receive high marks on her technique. Thus encouraged, a young Gearon changed careers again and moved behind the camera.
For another five years, Gearon's budding career as a fashion photographer moved from success to success. Her images appeared in national publications and were used on billboard campaigns. It was perhaps no surprise to those who knew her that another career move was in the offing. Gearon's considerable talent was expanding past the horizons of fashion and into fine art photography.
Coinciding with her artistic transformation was another sort of change. Tierney Gearon became a mother. It was her family life that served as inspiration for her artistic evolution outside of fashion and into art photography. Gearon's first major show was called "I am a Camera". Many of the images she presented were of her family and children. Two in particular would vault Gearon into international notoriety.
TIERNEY GEARON - Untitled (Plate 28), From the Shapes Series, 2012
One image was of her young nude son urinating. The other was of both son and daughter playing at the beach in the nude. The images were innocent, sweet, and far from exploitative. Much to Gearon's surprise, the images sparked a massive controversy. Police visited the Saatchi Gallery where her show was hosted. There were whispers that the images would soon be confiscated. A furore erupted in the national media.

When the public saw the images, it came down firmly on the side of Gearon. The images were harmless and sentimental. They were not sexual or damaging. The images remained at the Saatchi and for a time, Gearon became a household name. The public enjoyed the maternal affection that showed through in many of Gearon's photographs. The images also have a simplicity and colorfulness that resonated with people. The publicity because of the controversy, initially bad, transformed into good publicity that boosted Gearon's career.
TIERNEY GEARON - Frame 18, from the Explosure Series, 2008
Gearon went on to be featured in two exhibitions that received publicity as a consequence of her earlier participation in the controversy. In 2006, Gearon presented a show called "The Mother Project" that was a critical success as well as a hit with the public. In 2008, Gearon opened a show called "Explosure" that was similarly successful. Her work has also been shown in a number of museums and galleries including the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the Parrish Art Museum, and the Gagosian. Gearon did work for The New York Times Magazine that was presented as "Hollywood Heroines".

Photos are taken by the Gearon

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