Kids in Cubes: The Strange, Compelling Photographs of Tierney Gearon


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This past Sunday’s New York Times Magazine ran a photo gallery called “The Shape of Things,” featuring the work of Tierney Gearon. I hadn’t heard of her before, but her images of young children and animals enclosed in brightly colored, Plexiglas cubes and set outside on the snow and grass were so fresh and arresting, I wanted to know more. 

Turns out that a decade ago, Gearon, now in her late 40s, was at the center of a controversy in Britain over an exhibition that included images of her young kids—sometimes in various stages of undress. At the heart of the ruckus was the thorny dilemma about making the private public, and exploring through images the most intimate aspects of her life: her family. Which, when you think about it, isn’t all that different from the conundrum facing parents who post videos or snapshots of their kids hucking huge air: When we capture our kids on film—whether in portraits or live footage, art or news—are we exploiting them or celebrating them?

The answer for Gearon seems most definitely to be the latter. She went on to become a sought-after commercial photographer with assignments around the world and a starring role in the Sundance Channel documentary, “The Mother Project.” Her own four kids are still among her favorite subjects, and they appear on beaches, in snowdrifts, in river beds, and, yes, in non-extreme settings like on the floor, in front of the TV. 

Gearon photographed the bulk of her latest “Shapes” projects in enviable locales like St. Barts and Telluride and the deserts of Southern California, corralling her kids and assorted friends and pets (including one rabbit). Her vision is strangely dreamlike—it’s almost as though she’s bringing the indoors out, not the other way around—and the effect is action-sports-meets-artsy-still-lifes: the lightning speed of childhood, arrested. If only for a little while.

Check out the full gallery at

—Katie Arnold

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