Atlanta-born, fine art and commercial photographer, Tierney Gearon, found fame when she deviated from her successful commercial career and began documenting her personal life, and the lives of her children and extended family. Her everyday images, brightly-colored and with surreal twists, sparked controversy as well as praise at her first show at the Saachi Gallery in London. (“I Am A Camera.”) Other projects to-date include “The Mother Project,” a painfully intimate film and accompanying still photos of her mentally ill mother, and “EXPOSURE,” a body of work using double exposures sans retouching.
Tierney Gearon has been my “partner in crime” for over fourteen years. We met on the set of a photo shoot I was producing (for extremely uptight clients). Tierney was the photographer.
We were shooting on the beach. The day was going well when I went to find Tierney after lunch break, to set up for the next shot. To my absolute horror (producer hat on) and amusement (bohemian hat on), I found her on the sand, stark naked, doing a handstand. She’d written I LOVE YOU on her belly. The wardrobe stylist was taking a shot to send to Tierney’s boyfriend.
“Do you know anyone who’d be willing to take their clothes off?” Tierney asked me after the shoot. When I looked at her aghast, (I never took my clothes off) she smiled. “It’s for a project I’m doing while I’m in L.A.” My producer hat demurred, but my bohemian hat overruled it. The next day Tierney was at my house, shooting naked people for ID Magazine, and I was one of them!
To describe her is like trying to break down a whirlwind. She’s a storm of artistic fervor, a lover of life and the art that trails behind her; masterpieces follow in her wake. For Tierney, creation is as essential as breathing. Her brilliant mind is rarely still. Like a whirlwind, she’s a force of
Then there is Tierney the friend who’ll drive an hour out of her way, just to drop in and stay ten minutes, just to touch base. She’s a builder of safe havens, and a wonderful friend. When you’re with Tierney, one thing is for certain: You are going to laugh a lot.
Tight friends and co-conspirators in art and in life, Tierney and I have collaborated on numerous projects. She included my kids,most recently in her ABC book published by Damiani.
AF:Tierney, why did you move to Malibu?
TG:I lived in Santa Monica for ten years. I’d begun to outgrow my environment. My four kids and I needed a change. I’d always thought of Malibu as a weekend place. I never knew there
was a whole other world, the other side of PCH. I found my house by happy accident, and fell in love with it.
AF:How do you find the community here in Malibu?
TG:I’ve discovered a wonderful world of gentle, uncomplicated people, like hidden gems. Ilove the schools, and it boasts the most incredible sports programs for the kids. It’s a real community with an old town feel.
AF:What art projects are you working on these days?
TG:The industry has changed so much. I’m not in a rush to put my work out there. In fact, I am prompted to hold on to my work and pause a moment. So, the new house, with its six acres overlooking the ocean, is my latest art project. There’s so much to do! The past year has consumed me. I’m converting the garden to a drought-tolerant space. The garden is like a huge painting. I’m either going to ruin it or become fa- mous for it, because I literally have no idea what I’m doing.
AF:That never stopped you before!
TG:I’m incorporating what was already in the yard, like the thousands of bulbs that come up once a year, with drought-resistant plants. We are incorporating a biodynamic vegetable garden.
AF:And then there are the animals?
TG:Yes. Those pesky goats that you gave me. I have to build higher and higher fences, because one of them has taught the others how to escape. We have chickens, too. But I think we have too many now.
AF:How do you use your house and your space to create?
TG:I always have people staying with us - I thrive on lots of diverse energies in the house.
Every shoot I do these days is shot in my backyard. I use my whole property as a backdrop. I
have spaces for tie-dying, one of my passions, and for ceramics. We have even created a fairy
garden that keeps growing with things the kids add on a daily basis.
AF:What are your thoughts on social media, now that “anyone can be a photographer?”
TG:On one hand, I think it is incredible and I love the medium. But my response to a world flooded by images, is to pull back a little, and not be so quick to put my work out for
consumption. I do post things - but I think very carefully before I post them. Also, I find I can’t really post things without being censored and I can’t be censored, so I’m cautious about what I
share. I’m biding my time until I see where I fit in all of this. AF: This move seems like a new chapter for you?
TG: Yes, this is a new chapter. Life for me is one big art project. Malibu is the perfect place to