New York, New York: A Woman and her dog in the Harlem section

Gordon Parks: The Farm Security Photographs 1942 to 1944

Image: New York, New York: A Woman and her dog in the Harlem section

January 30 to April 21, 2023 (Monday through Friday – 9AM-5PM)
Jane Lutnick Fine Arts Center, Atrium Gallery

Gordon Parks, The Farm Security Photographs 1942 to 1944 consists of a selection of Parks’ work printed from high resolution files of his images scanned from the original negatives in collection of the Library of Congress Washington, D.C., printed in the Digital Photography Lab at Haverford College. Many of these images are unknown and presented in this exhibition to give a fuller accounting of the early work that was to define Parks’ career.

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, (1912-2006) was a documentarian whose work covers many genres from reportage to fashion. A self-taught photographer with little professional training, Parks won a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in 1942; this led to a position with the photography section of The Farm Security Administration (FSA) in Washington, D.C., and later, the Office of War Information (OWI).

Working for these agencies, which were then chronicling the nation’s social conditions, Parks quickly developed a personal style that would make him among the most celebrated photographers of his era. The subject of his work covers American life and culture from the early 1940s into the 2000s, with a focus on race relations, poverty, civil rights, and urban life. Parks was also a distinguished composer, author, and filmmaker who interacted with many of the leading people of his era—from politicians and artists to athletes and other celebrities.

Parks’ extraordinary pictures allowed him to break the color line in professional photography while he created remarkably expressive images that consistently explored the social and economic impact of poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination. In 1944, Parks left the OWI to work for the Standard Oil Company’s photographic documentary project. Around this time, he was also becoming a freelance photographer for Glamour and Ebony, which expanded his photographic practice and further developed his distinct style.