Artist of the Day: Category: Photography:Gordon Parks (Person of Color edition)

Gordon Parks

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Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006) was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, writer and film director. He is best remembered for his photographic essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film, Shaft.[2]

Parks is remembered for photography, film making, music composition, and writing. He also is known for his activism and campaigning for civil rights. He was the first African American to work at Life magazine and the first to write, direct, and score a Hollywood film. He was profiled in the 1967 documentary, “Weapons of Gordon Parks”, by American filmmaker Warren Forma.

Parks was a co-founder of Essence magazine. He was one of the early contributors to the style of movies that became known as the blaxploitation genre, in which negative stereotypes of black males as being involved in drugs, violence, and women were exploited for commercially-successful films featuring black actors.

Parks said that freedom was the theme of all of his work. He described it as, “Not allowing anyone to set boundaries, cutting loose the imagination, and then making the new horizons.”[5]

Parks’ son, Gordon Parks, Jr. (1934–1979) directed films, including Super FlyThree the Hard Way, and Aaron Loves Angela. His career was cut short when he died in a plane crash on location in Africa.


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