Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks
YONKERS, NY April 17, 2002 - The work of renowned American artist, and master of many media, Gordon Parks, will be exhibited at the Hudson River Museum from June 7 to September 1. Featuring over 200 photographs, ranging from 1940 through 1997, as well as his books, music, and films, this exhibition is co-curated by Philip Brookman, curator of photography and media arts at Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art, and Deborah Willis, who teaches photography at New York University. The exhibition debuted at the Corcoran Gallery and continues its national tour at the Hudson River Museum.
Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks and related programs are made possible by AOL Time Warner and Ford Motor Company. Additional support is provided by the Glen Eagles Foundation, Cone-Laumont Editions, Ltd., Laumont Labs, and Time Life Photo Laboratories. The Westchester presentation of Half Past Autumn has been made possible, in part, by Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc. The exclusive print-media sponsor for this exhibition is The Journal News.
Although the 89-year-old Parks is best known as a photojournalist, Half Past Autumn brings together for the first time his work in all media.The exhibition begins with several of his most recent images and then turns to the past with early photographs representing his Kansas childhood.
“We are privileged to exhibit the works of such an influential American figure as Parks,” said Michael Botwinick, Director of the Hudson River Museum. “The diversity of his art shows his vision and his unerring sense of the pulse and energy of the time and place in which he worked.”
Born in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912, Gordon Parks, the youngest of 15 children, overcame poverty and racism to rise to the top of his profession. He has chronicled the Kansas prairies of his childhood, city streets throughout the Americas and Europe, and the intricate details of the natural world.
Parks has made his own experiences – his life and feelings about those around him – central to his work. “I was born to a black childhood of confusion and poverty,” Parks says. “The memory of that beginning influences my work today.” Following his mother’s death when he was 16, Parks left Kansas and, for the next 10 years, worked as a piano player, busboy, basketball player and Civilian Conservation Corpsman. During the Depression, Farm Security Administration (FSA) photographs of Dust Bowl refugees gripped Parks and he chose the camera as his creative medium and tool to fight hopelessness.
Winning an FSA fellowship, Parks, searching for the sources of bigotry, photographed Ella Watson, an FSA charwoman, and made her the subject of his first and best-known picture, American Gothic (1942). Posed like the farmer in Grant Wood’s 1930 composition of the same name, Ella stands before an American flag holding the symbols of her labor – a mop and broom – in place of the farmer’s pitchfork.
At LIFE where Parks worked over 20 years, he photographed Harlem gangs, fashion, segregation in the South, the Black Muslims and, always, poverty in America. He perfected his trademark style at LIFE, personalizing a story by documenting the impact of complex situations on real people.
Richard Parsons, Co-Chief Operating Officer of AOL Time Warner, said: “We are proud of our history with Gordon Parks over the last half century, beginning with his work as a LIFE photographer. Through his work in film, print, photography and music, Gordon Parks has brought us a better understanding of our country, our world and ourselves. We are delighted to help support this important exhibition of his work.”
“Ford Motor Company is proud to be a part of this salute to Gordon Parks,” said William Clay Ford, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ford Motor Company. “His photographs depict the people, places, and events that make history, transforming ordinary images into extraordinary art.”
Half Past Autumn places Parks’s photography within the context of all his work, and reveals its importance to the social and cultural history of the twentieth century. The Hudson River Museum will complement the exhibition with community-based education programs, including films, slide shows, concerts and workshops.
About the Exhibtion Sponsors
AOL Time Warner is committed to serving the public interest by using our unique talents and resources to enrich people's lives and strengthen communities around the world. Our investments in the arts are focused on expanding access to the arts; supporting arts initiatives that celebrate diversity and engender greater understanding; inspiring excellence in the arts; strengthening nonprofit arts organizations and increasing their ability to use technology to achieve their missions; and using arts and media to encourage young people to get involved in their communities.
Since its founding in 1903, Ford Motor Company has supported a broad range of initiatives and institutions that focus on education, the environment, health and welfare, civic affairs and public policy, and the art and humanities in the United States and around the world. As a global company, Ford supports programs that enhance and enrich the communities where it does business. Ford is committed to creating opportunities that stimulate creativity and innovation, promote cultural diversity and enhance the quality of life in our communities.
Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc., Elmsford, NY, is the marketing subsidiary of Fuji Photo Film Co., Ltd. of Tokyo, a leading manufacturer of imaging and information products. Fuji is strongly committed to support all the communities in which it does business by contributing to local environmental, educational, health and human services, arts and cultural organizations and programs.
The Journal News is the leading provider of news and information for New York’s Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. Each day Journal News photographers capture moments in the lives of individuals just as Gordon Parks chronicled the human story over several decades.
Located at 511 Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, The Hudson River Museum is a nonprofit, cultural institution that embraces fine art, science and history. The museum houses galleries, a planetarium and the Glenview Mansion – a National Register Site. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 5 p.m all year and on Fridays, Noon–9 p.m., May through September. Members free. $4 adults, $3 senior citizens age 62 and older and children age 12 and younger.