A WITNESS IN PURGATORY
Purgatory is said
to be the condition, process, or place, of purification in which the souls
of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for
heaven. There are similar traditions in Buddhist, (The Bardo) and Hindu,
(Reincarnation), religious and philosophical texts and beliefs. Purgatory
may be literal, myth or a social-religious convention to explain the
unexplainable. Purgatory may be pure metaphor and allusion...
Some would say these
images are of the weakest in our society, and others that they represent the
strongest, being only the strongest could survive for long under these severe
What we do know is that
Tom Stone has championed the cause to bring these people to us as personal
images and mainly as portraits, portraits that many times reveal an inner
sadness and emotional, psychological, and physical destruction unknown to most.
We may be shocked by the
seemingly bad life choices some of these individuals have made and at other
times amazed at the sad misfortune and circumstances of their lives. These
images cry out for compassion and care. Each person shown here could be
your mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, child, or even
yourself. Tom Stone has put the mirror in front of us and has forced us to
look. And looking is the reflection of our selves, in them. - A reflection
of emotional hurt, scorned and abused children, violence and addiction to
circumstances only drugs can wipe away for the moment. And then there's
that one moment of clarity and if it comes, it comes too late for most.
- Don Noyes-More Ph.D., Editor in Chief.
IN URBAN CALIFORNIA
old, the young, the sick, the lost,
She lost her husband
in 2003. She's on the streets,
and is suffering from stomach
"I'm not afraid to show you,"†
she offers as she shows her withered
|TOM STONE TV INTERVIEW (click)
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
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 a documentary
photographer known for his portraits of people living along the edges of society. His photography shares perspective with
the work of Dorothea Lange, Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus and Sebasti„o Salgado.
|CLICK ON PHOTOS TO ENLARGE
In Los Angeles, according
to the city's own estimates, there are five to eight homeless persons for every available shelter bed. The lack of shelter
availability in Los Angeles is exacerbated by the high percentage of shelters which charge fees. Nationally about 1.7 million
children and teens are homeless...and the numbers are growing. The numbers of homeless families has totally outstripped all
"The homeless are indeed the
symbol of a cruel economy."
- Robert Hayes -
(#1 Left) His name is Turk. There's great confusion in him. There's clarity as he relates fly fishing in kentucky
or his left forward play in high school in gainesville. We talk about his leaving high school early; never returning, though
he'd thought he would. about the lives he's lived; and the lifestyles.
Left) She's not as drunk as she pretends. And she's smarter than she lets on. The older boy next to her is just as drunk as
he looks. They met earlier over a can of beer. Her name is Sadie.
(#3 Left) His name's Wayland. He's been
working the intersection like a pin ball, or a yo-yo on a string. Corner to corner; side to side, propelled or drawn, he rushes
here and there, then waits. I catch him in an alley with a friend and his bear. The friend is hunched behind a car and hovers
away as i approach. the bear stays close.
(#4 Left) His name is Chance. I return from another direction and I'm stared
down as I approach. There is the lady and a man; neither stranger to the elements. she's black; he's white. There are two
older children and one baby in a second stroller. And there is the child I met before. He is 3.
(#5 Left) His name is William "from Carolina," he's 77 years old. Says,
"i just got out of the VA hospital and could use a place to stay." he's been sleeping in doorways on market street. "Could
use a hood too, something warm for my head." He lost his hotel room while he was in the hospital. He's waiting for the
first of May to get his $900 labor union retirement check and then he'll get a new place.
#6 Left) The girl sits
small, like she's alone in a tiny space. Withdrawn into some shell, away from all noises and everything. A woman
sits beside her on the sidewalk. A jacket covering her where she sits. They're an odd pair. occasionally they exchange words
(#7 Left) Archie from Texas standing on the sidewalk near the tenderloin. He's just made it here from Texas. Asked
for a photo, says "i don't mind." Archie is an old cowboy. Says he used to ride rodeo, says he still has a son in San Francisco
and points across the way to a large transgendered person.
Left) 'Streetkid' sitting on sidewalk trying to keep warm.
Left) Homeless Kat. Kat has a cart and has been rapidly culling the trash cans for recycling. She has a doll around her neck;
Its arms in a constant embrace.