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TOM SERIES: Self-portraits based on Chambers' life experiences [Scroll horizontally to view
images and vertically to read text.].
A satellite photo [courtesy of USGS, 2005 ] of Chambers' hometown [Nocona
[*], Texas, U.S.A.] is superimposed onto his face to indicate that he and his
hometown are inseparable ... one ... even though commonality has been lost over
the years due to Chambers' living away and lifestyle. He attended first/fourth
grades there with occasional visits during the summer season. His last visit was
in 1992 to see his grandmother for the last time before going overseas to
Zimbabwe, Africa. When he thinks of his hometown ... a small leather goods [*],
cattle ranching [*] and farming community [*] of about 3000 people ... he has
fond memories [Nocona: A View of the 50s; Lost Places of Nocona], and he
regrets that he didn't visit more often over the past 25 years. His grandparents,
parents, brother and other family members are buried there, and he hopes this
area will be his last resting place as well.
The classic Indian head TV test pattern is superimposed ... similar to war paint
[*] ... onto Chambers' face to indicate programming influence on his childhood
and adolescence [1950s - 1960s]. Chambers is a Baby Boomer ... born in 1947 ...
and part of the first generation to be nurtured and entertained by the tube. The
test pattern became an industry standard, and it was originally developed by
RCA. Chambers remembers his father ... and his grandfather ... grappling with the
TV remote control that came out in the 1950s and the occasional arguing
between his mother and father over which program to watch. He fondly
remembers his mother having to sit in front of the television in the mornings and
afternoons to watch her soap operas. And when his father came home after
work, it was couch and TV time before and after dinner. Click on TV Shows to
read the listing of programs that Chambers grew up with.
Joe Kim Tom
Chambers' brother's name and birth
etched stone ... onto his forehead, a
tombstone [death mask] to indicate
death in 1953. He died at birth, and
remembers peering into a tiny caske
father and other family members vis
years old, and this was his first enco
the years that he was an only child,
the fact that he had lost a brother. H
have grown up to be and what kind
Chambers utilizes the self-portrait to project his life experiences. His portrait remains constant
with the experience [situation] indicated as a change or flux in the image. The accompanying
text details his experience with the inclusion of numerous links to the Internet for additional
information. TOM SERIES is not only an artwork about Chambers' life ... biography
[visual/textual] ... but also a reference tool ... a study of history through his existence.
Chambers put together another project, Descendants 350 in 1986 that used a similar approach
to the study of history [Rhode Island's early history] by generating/displaying documentary
portraits of the Descendants of the Founding Fathers along with text about their [Ancestors']
trials/tribulations and contributions in the making of the State. This connection of the past and
present ... using imagery of contemporaries [living individuals] to create a sense of immediacy
... in both projects, TOM SERIES and Descendants 350 creates more interest and excitement in
studying a subject ... history, in this case. The constancy of the same portrait [Chambers'
image] indicates a human being's existence within a world/an environment that's ever
influencing and changing the psyche and at some point in time ... later [twilight] years for this
individual, the psyche begins to take control and evaluate the process ... vis-a-vis, TOM
Viewers of the same generation will probably begin to travel down their own personal memory
lanes that may or may not cross his own. As they look at a particular image and read the text of
TOM SERIES, they may very well have had a similar to almost same experience. If not, they
might begin to think about what they were doing during that particular time period when he
was involved in his particular life activity and even compare their and Chambers' activities ...
more or less fortunate ... happier or unhappier ... and other situational aspects that determine
the human condition. And for particular viewers, their life experiences might weave in and out
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of his, creating a subliminal connection ... similar to the helix that equates all life at the
Viewers of today's generation ... the young generation ... will get a hint of what has come
before them and might be ahead of them in an immediate sense. TOM SERIES becomes a litmus
test for this generation to begin to gauge their own lives ... an indicator of pitfalls to avoid and
opportunities to take advantage of ... a lifeline [in palmistry] to begin to evaluate their own in a
projected sense and as it might relate to their parents'/grandparents' lives. TOM SERIES might
even bring the young generation closer to their parents/grandparents, and they [younger
generation] might want to know more about them [parents/grandparents] and the older
Chambers regrets that he didn't get to know his parents better [see Jean Tom and Joe Tom].
And he regrets that he didn't share in his son's childhood [see Father Tom]. Maybe this is the
main reason for TOM SERIES, and he hopes this series will have universal appeal like his
project, Mother's 45s had in 1990 [Gallery One, Providence, Rhode Island, USA] and 1992 [Part
of Parents exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Wright State University, Dayton,
Ohio, USA]. This project is about Chambers' mother, but as the viewer experiences Mother's
45s, he/she is probably thinking about his/her mother as well.
Bruce Hanks, Manager, University of Winnipeg Instructional Network, Center for Teaching,
Learning and Technology [CDDL], The University of Winnipeg [Canada]:
"At a time when all known convention(s) are in a state of flux, globally we see issues of identity
coming to the fore. People, cultures, countries, corporate branding . . . just about everything is
struggling with identity. I see your work and see an artist who is not afraid of who he is and
knows clearly where he stands. This is identity in your face. A well articulated juxtaposition of
the present image (portrait) with historical reference points/images that define(ed) who you
have become. Although personal, your age and experience growing up in the 50's and 60's, and
as such a member of the baby boom generation, is easily extrapolated to every other member
of that generation. I see your home town and I am in Bristol, England. I see the test pattern
and somewhere in my files I have an Indian Head test pattern, etc. Your personal frankness
and honesty allows for others to see themselves on a parallel path. This needs to be a traveling
exhibit along with many others exploration of identity."
JD Jarvis, Art Critic/Artist and coauthor of "Going Digital: The Practice and Vision of Digital
Artists" (ISBN 1-59200-918-2) [USA]:
"Here's to a series that runs for many years yet to come."
Martin Mendelsberg, Designer/Typographer [Creator of Holocaust Portfolio.][USA]:
Ricardo Baez-Duarte, Digital Photographer/Artist [Venezuela]:
"This is a very interesting series. It invites the audience to think hard about the message. I like
the technique, very original. Good!"
Hannah Gal, Digital Artist [UK]:
Larry Lemons, Photographer/Artist [Hometown (Nocona) friend][USA]:
"I found your Tom series fascinating, thought provoking, and reminiscent of some of my own
personal experiences. I viewed each image and read all the captions to get a better
understanding of not only the art project itself, but of you as a person, which I believe might
have been a great part of your intent. While I do not share the Taoist philosophy that you seem
to have embraced, I do believe that there is a better way to live than just working all week to
accumulate money for more useless material possessions. I have staked my eternal destiny on
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the teachings of and my faith in Jesus, the Christ. I have neither read or heard of any other
great master who was willing to lay down his innocent life for the sins of this world and then
have the power to rise up from the grave in victory over death. Forgive me for preaching, but to
not reply to that part of your project would be to deny my own personal faith, which I cannot
do. I like your art and I do not take offense to it in any way, in spite of my own Christian
commitment and desire to see others come to know Him (John 3:16). In fact, I am inspired by
it. Please continue to share it with me."
Tom Series (China Tom, Tao Tom, Hometown Tom, AHS Tom [instructor invitation]),
SELF/SOUL (Joint Student Exhibition, Zhaoqing University and University of
Louisville[Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.A.]) (group show), Fine Arts Department, Zhaoqing
University, Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China, December 1 - 25, 2006.
Tom Series (China Tom, Tao Tom, Hometown Tom, Target Tom), Faculty Exhibition (group
show), Fine Arts Department, Zhaoqing University, Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China,
November 25 - December 1, 2006.
Tom Series book purchased by the Hilton M. Briggs Library, South Dakota State University,
Brookings, South Dakota, U.S.A.
Term paper on Tom Chambers [Art Appreciation for Honors; a 100-level, lower division class,
where students have chosen an artist on the theme of interconnectivity, and analyzed a
selection of works.] by Peter DeGroot, Art student of Dr. Leda Cempellin, Assistant Professor,
History of Art, Department of Visual Arts, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South
Dakota, U.S.A., 2009.
Buy the "Tom Series" book: