Gordon Parks: An Iconic Renaissance Man & Visual Storyteller

I was introduced to Gordon Parks through Thaddeus Miles’s photography project called Faces: Up Close & Personal of which many of his images are featured here from time to time. Miles speaks on how he searched for inspiration for his Faces project and came across a few quotes by Gordon Parks — iconic photographer, visual storyteller, film maker, musician, and artist. His work touched on social issues and documented poverty and segregation in Kansas during 1912. It was clear to me why Thaddeus Miles chose him for inspiration. His work truly inspires change and revision through the use of his camera.

I say renaissance man because Gordon Parks had many interests; and he used them all toward his goals in life. What struck me the most was the power of simplicity with the use of his camera as a weapon.

 

Gordon Parks Self Portrait, ca.1948 | BL | Black Lion Journal | Black Lion
Self Portrait, ca.1948

“I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” — Gordon parks

 

The Gordon Parks Foundation houses a historical archive of the works and events that Parks captured during his life. Many topics there speak on capturing life, from fashion to politics, to musicians, and even abstract art. Of the many collections there — in which all are my favorite — what struck out to me was his abstraction gallery. I’m a dear lover and friend of abstract art; and seeing Gordon Parks’s work gave me a thrill that I hadn’t felt since I viewed artist Sissh’s abstract work. They’re all absolutely gorgeous.

Travelers, 1996 | BL | Black Lion Journal | Black Lion
Travelers, 1996

His abstract work, however, shouldn’t cloud the enormity of responsibility he had in capturing important moments of history. His work serves as a historical record of events by becoming the visual history by which we understand life and those times. He was a visual storyteller not only for his photography but for having the ability to engage with his community and to create unspoken moments of dialogue — as contradictory as that may read. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and so in this instance, it certainly is.

Untitled, Harlem, New York, 1952 by Gordon Parks, Photographer, Photography, Black and white traveler, train station | BL | Black Lion Journal | Black Lion
Untitled, Harlem, New York, 1952

It takes only a few moments to browse through the Foundation’s collection of his works; only a few moments of your time to value an iconic artist who used his camera to capture important moments of history.

gordon-parks-abstract-Evening, 1995-from-the-gordon-parks-foundation
Evening, 1995

 

BL | Black Lion Journal | Black Lion | Christina Lydia

All images from The Gordon Parks Foundation. Header image is titled “Evening, 1995.” © 2017 Black Lion Journal. Want to see your work here? Visit the Submissions page to learn more about submitting to the Journal’s sections or to The Wire’s Dream.


 

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