We couldn't be more excited about the Gordon Parks exhibition opening at the High Museum of Art on Nov. 15th. Can't wait to see the exhibition catalogue, too!
The High Museum of Art will present rarely seen photographs by trailblazing African American artist and filmmaker Gordon Parks in “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story,” on view Nov. 15, 2014 through June 7, 2015. The exhibition, presented in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation, will feature more than 40 of Parks’ color prints – most on view for the first time in over half a century – created for a powerful and influential 1950s Life magazine article documenting the lives of an extended African-American family in segregated Alabama. The series represents one of Parks’ earliest social documentary studies on color film. Coinciding with “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story,” the High will acquire 12 of the color prints featured in the exhibition, supplementing the two Parks works – both gelatin silver prints – already owned by the High. These works will augment the Museum’s extensive collection of Civil Rights era photography, one of the most significant in the nation. Following the publication of the Life article, many of the photos Parks shot for the essay were stored away and forgotten for more than 50 years, presumed lost until they were rediscovered in 2012 (six years after Parks’ death). Though a small selection of these images has been previously exhibited, the High’s presentation brings to light a significant number that have never before been displayed publicly. As the first African-American photographer for Life magazine, Parks published some of the 20th century’s most iconic social justice-themed photo essays and became widely celebrated for his work in black-and-white photography, the dominant medium of his era. The photographs that Parks created for Life’s 1956 photo essay “The Restraints: Open and Hidden” are remarkable for their vibrant color and showcase a little-known and seldom explored segment of his work. The images provide a unique perspective on one of America’s most controversial periods. Rather than capturing momentous scenes of the struggle for civil rights, Parks portrayed a family going about daily life in unjust circumstances. Parks believed empathy to be vital to the undoing of racial prejudice. His corresponding approach to the Life project eschewed the journalistic norms of the day and represented an important chapter in Parks’ career-long endeavor to use the camera as a “weapon of choice” for social change. “The Restraints: Open and Hidden” gave Parks his first national platform to challenge segregation. The images he created offered a deeper look at life in the Jim Crow South, transcending stereotypes to reveal a common humanity. “Parks’ images brought the segregated South to the public consciousness in a very poignant way – not only in color, but also through the eyes of one of the century’s most influential documentarians,” said Brett Abbott, exhibition curator and Keough Family curator of photography and head of collections at the High. “To present these works in Atlanta, one of the centers of the Civil Rights Movement, is a rare and exciting opportunity for the High. It is also a privilege to add Parks’ images to our collection, which will allow the High to share his unique perspective with generations of visitors to come.”Photo credit: Gordon Parks (American, 1912–2006), Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama, 1956, courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.