Gordon Parks


Gordon Parks (1912-2006) was born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas. An itinerant laborer, he worked as a brothel pianist and railcar porter, among other jobs, before buying a camera at a pawnshop, training himself, and becoming a photographer. Notably, one of his first photography jobs was shooting fashion for a women's clothing store in St. Paul, Minnesota. In addition to his storied tenures photographing for the Farm Security Administration (1941-45) and Life Magazine (1948-72), Parks evolved into a modern day Renaissance man, finding success as a film director, writer, and composer. The first African-American director to helm a major motion picture, Parks introduced his film Shaft in 1971. He wrote numerous memoirs, novels, and books of poetry, and received countless awards, including the National Medal of Arts, and more than fifty honorary degrees.

Parks' photography has been the subject of national and international exhibitions at numerous museums, including the Corcoran Gallery of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, Fondazione Forma per le Fotographia, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, New Orleans Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Art institute of Chicago, C/O Berlin, and the Getty Museum.