Our Time on Earth

Tom Young

Tom Young's most ambitious photo book to date renders our time on Earth in new ways.
Date Published :
November 2020
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Contributor(s) :
Aprile Gallant
Illustration :
83 color photographs
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781938086779
Pages : 152
Dimensions : 12 X 12 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Tom Young's most ambitious photo book to date renders our time on Earth in new ways.

Wide-ranging and operatic in scale and in scope, Our Time on Earth—Tom Young’s fourth book—is an intuitive gaze at the mystery, promise, and condition of human life on Earth in 2020. In an expansive col-lection of eighty-three new photographs, artfully sequenced into thematic parts, Young brings to us a vis-ual narrative that simultaneously hints at the apocalyptic unfolding of contemporary life while offering reverential hope for a better world.

Through a collision of images as minute as a molded snow globe, as expansive as a roiling ocean, and as haunting as steam belching from the tower of a nuclear power plant, Young brings the reader on an epic journey. Here one finds the prayerful silence of a goat at peace in a freshly dug grave, the human tableaux of young people amidst the drenching power of water, and the simple magnificence of moving water frozen into icy stillness. Here as well one finds disturbing aspects of the human mosaic to be found in the common places of everyday life, from a school bus abandoned in a vast mined landscape to a col-lapsing building in the shape of a large cat.

In Tom Young’s universe, juxtaposition tells a story while the precise rendering of a moment in time speaks to the mystery of creation and the devotion of a photographer trying to understand a compli-cated world. As curator Aprile Gallant observes in her insightful essay: “The images build upon the other, veering from macro to micro, from vegetable, animal, and mineral to welded, constructed, and manufac-tured . . . The aggregate of viewing is an awareness of the deep interconnectedness of humans and their environment, a drama that plays out in equally beneficial and devastating ways.”

Our Time on Earth plays knowingly off the idea that human endeavors on the planet can be as brief as the beat of a hummingbird’s wing and as long-lasting as mercury and lead embedded in a local river or stream. The question thus arises as to how the traces we leave behind from our time on Earth will reverberate as we move forward to the next generation and the next and the next.

About The Author

Tom Young was born in 1951 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received his M.F.A. in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1977. He is currently a professor of art, emeritus, at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, Massachusetts. He has been awarded an Artist Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and four Artist Fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. His work is included in numerous permanent collections, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Polaroid International Collection in Offenbach, Germany, and Harvard University's Fogg Museum. Young's work has been exhibited internationally, including the International Center of Photography in New York City, the Frans Hals Museum in Harlem, The Netherlands, the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, Germany, and the National Museum of Fine Arts at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. In addition to Recycled Realities, he is the author of Timeline: Learning to See with My Eyes Closed (George F. Thompson Publishing, 2012). His photographs have also appeared in a number of publications, including Artworks: Tom Young (Williams College Museum of Art), American Perspectives (Tokyo Museum of Photography), Goodbye to Apple Pie (DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts), and 2 to Tango: Collaboration in Recent American Photography(International Center of Photography). He resides in Buckland, Massachusetts.

Aprile Gallant is Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Smith College Museum of Art, where she is also responsible for the administration of the Cunningham Center for the Study of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs. In this capacity she is the primary curator in charge of SCMA’s 24,000-piece works-on-paper collection. She has also played an integral part in the development of the overall collections and programs, including exhibitions on topics ranging from American prints (Defiant Vision: Prints & Poetry by Munio Makuuchi, 2019) and artist’s books (Too Much Bliss: Twenty Years of Granary Books, 2006) to contemporary photography (Photographing Undomesticated Interiors, 2003). She has been an active member of the Print Council of America since 1999.


“Human intervention has caused extensive and now dire consequences for our Earth. Even for a photographer, every image is an intervention as a frame is extracted from a larger reality. And Tom Young further intervenes, montaging images of the natural world to create an alternative language so that we can stop and contemplate our role in the timeline of human history and the history of the planet we inhabit. What emerges is disquieting—and a challenge to do better. Just because we homo sapiens have outlasted other hominid species does not mean that we are not an evolutionary dead end. Tom Young’s evocative images remind us that we are at a tipping point. We have to change to survive or Nature will be quite content to go on without us.”

- The Photo Review

“The expressive images in Tom Young’s Our Time on Earth live at a poetic interface between Nature before homo sapiens and changes wrought by the hand of man on the third planet from the sun. The often ambiguous juxtaposition of natural phenomena and post-industrial landscapes in Young’s photos urge the viewer toward greater awareness of our role in reshaping Earth and the future that awaits us if we continue in our present ways of being.”

- Stephen E. Strom, Associate Director for Science, Emeritus, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and author of Tidal Rhythms

“Many of the images evoke these layers of awareness through juxtapositions of visual barriers—mirrors, plastic, water, mist. Each is a framed window that both blocks and invites peering… The aggregate of viewing is an awareness of the deep interconnectedness of humans and their environment, a drama that plays out in equally beneficial and devastating ways.”

- Maine Museum of Photographic Arts

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