A Series of Muses: Gordon Parks

Before I started reading on the Black experience in America, the searing images of Gordon Parks were my visual narratives of blackness. Laced throughout his photos was an inexhaustible anger against the social disparity his fellow citizens endured.  Mr. Parks' childhood was racked with poverty and social inequality, these conditions, gave him the innate ability to unearth the poetic and humanizing beauty of the poverty-stricken.

Mr. Parks' career weaved through America's formative era's of change and upheaval, The Great Depression, and Civil Rights. Each period gave root to his blossoming photojournalistic style.  "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."  

The zeitgeist of today makes commodities of images, a product readily bought and sold (shared) without much thought to its deeper meaning. Mr. Parks' work brings a depth of humanity and compassion to his subjects and arrests attention for you to wonder, "why is this situation acceptable in a country purporting equality and justice?"

The images of Mr. Parks' reminds me that, yes, a photographer can make a difference, that I too can be a bulwark against the tsunami of racial poverty, prejudice, and the perdition America has wrought against Black Americans. And to always honor the idea that, "the subject matter is so much more important than the photographer."                                                                                         

And when I do make a difference I must avoid "[feeling] big and bloated and so big [I] can't walk through doors because [I got] a good byline; [I got] noticed all over the world and so forth; [that I'm] really [important] - the important people are the people [I] photograph."

Pascal DuBoisComment