Friday, November 30, 2018

Arty Farty Friday ~ Gordon Parks, Photographer, Renaissance Man.

[Gordon] "Parks was a man of many pursuits — photographer, novelist, poet, memoirist, filmmaker, composer. But he is most remembered as a photographer. And while some of his images live on because they delight the eye with their beauty, others endure because of the way that they touched the hearts and minds of millions of LIFE’s readers and changed, if only just a little, the course of American history."

Above paragraph comes from
How Gordon Parks' Photographs Implored White America to See Black Humanity
~ John Edwin Mason, 2016.

Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas, son of Sarah and Jackson Parks, a tenant farmer, on Nov. 30, 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas. He was the youngest of fifteen children. He attended a segregated elementary school. The town was too small to afford a separate high school that would facilitate segregation of the secondary school, but blacks were not allowed to play sports or attend school social activities, and they were discouraged from developing any aspirations for higher education. Parks related in a documentary on his life that his teacher told him that his desire to go to college would be a waste of money.

When Parks was eleven years old, three white boys threw him into the Marmaton River, knowing he couldn't swim. He had the presence of mind to duck underwater so they wouldn't see him make it to land. His mother died when he was fourteen. He spent his last night at the family home sleeping beside his mother's coffin, seeking not only solace, but a way to face his own fear of death. Soon after, he was sent to St. Paul, Minnesota, to live with a sister and her husband. He and his uncle argued frequently and Parks was finally turned out onto the street to fend for himself at age 15. Struggling to survive, he worked in brothels, and as a singer, piano player, bus boy, traveling waiter, and semi-pro basketball player. In 1929, he briefly worked in a gentlemen's club, the Minnesota Club. There he not only observed the trappings of success, but was able to read many books from the club library. When the Wall Street Crash of 1929 brought an end to the club, he jumped a train to Chicago, where he managed to land a job in a flophouse.

Parks purchased his first camera at the age of 25 after viewing photographs of migrant workers in a magazine. His early fashion photographs caught the attention of Marva Louis, wife of the boxing champion Joe Louis, who encouraged Parks to move to a larger city. Parks and his wife, Sally, relocated to Chicago in 1940. He began to explore subjects beyond portraits and fashion photographs in Chicago. He became interested in the low-income black neighborhoods of Chicago's South Side. In 1941, Parks won a photography fellowship with the Farm Security Administration for his images of the inner city. He created some of his most enduring photographs during this fellowship, including "American Gothic, Washington, D.C.," picturing a member of the FSA cleaning crew in front of an American flag.

After the FSA disbanded, Parks continued to take photographs for the Office of War Information and the Standard Oil Photography Project. He also became a freelance photographer for Vogue. Parks worked for Vogue for a number of years, developing a distinctive style that emphasized the look of models and garments in motion, rather than in static poses.

In 1948 Parks became a staff photographer for Life magazine, the first African American to hold that position. He remained with the magazine until 1972, became known for his portrayals of ghetto life, black nationalists, and the civil rights movement. A photo-essay about a child from a Brazilian slum was expanded into a television documentary (1962) and a book with poetry (1978), both titled Flavio. Parks also was noted for his intimate portraits of such public figures as Ingrid Bergman, Barbra Streisand, Gloria Vanderbilt, and Muhammad Ali.

I'm wary of getting into hot water via copyright rules, so have not included a string of Gordon Parks' photographs - there are several in large format at this link:
Photos of Harlem in 1943 by the iconic photographer Gordon Parks …

Also, do go to Google Image for numerous examples of the work of Gordon Parks.

I hope I'll be allowed to include just one - I particularly like this, titled
"No Known Restrictions: Anacostia Boys". (1942) (Anacostia, Washington D.C. - a Frederick Douglass housing project).

Parks’s works of fiction include The Learning Tree (1963), a coming-of-age novel about a black adolescent in Kansas in the 1920s. He also wrote forthright autobiographies—A Choice of Weapons (1966), To Smile in Autumn (1979), and Voices in the Mirror (1990). He combined poetry and photography in A Poet and His Camera (1968), Whispers of Intimate Things (1971), In Love (1971), Moments Without Proper Names (1975), and Glimpses Toward Infinity (1996). Other works included Born Black (1971), a collection of essays, the novel Shannon (1981), and Arias in Silence (1994).

In 1968 Parks became the first African American to direct a major motion picture with his film adaptation of The Learning Tree. He also produced the movie and wrote the screenplay and musical score. He next directed Shaft (1971), which centred on a black detective. A major success, it helped give rise to the genre of African American action films known as blaxploitation. A sequel, Shaft’s Big Score, appeared in 1972. Parks later directed the comedy The Super Cops (1974) and the drama Leadbelly (1976) as well as several television films.

Gordon Parks died March 7, 2006, in New York.



I cannot possibly leave Mr Parks without taking a very brief look at his natal chart! It has to be a 12 noon version as no time of birth is known.

Born 30 November 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas.

A very strong showing of Sagittarius! Sun, Mars, Mercury and Jupiter all in the sign of The Archer, representing, among other characteristics a philosophical, open-minded, just, optimistic, and generous nature. Likely to be scholarly, inspirational, enthusiastic and expansive. That's just for starters! We cannot be certain of Moon's position without a time of birth. At noon Moon was in the last degrees of Leo, so if he were born later in the day, Moon would have been in early Virgo. I do like Leo Moon for him though. We also can't know Park's rising sign without time of birth. Even without that knowledge, there are several notable aspects and patterns in this well-integrated natal chart. I particularly like the aspects between planets at 00 degrees : Uranus @ 00 Aquarius, Mars @ 00 Sagittarius, Saturn @ 00 Gemini - there's a helpful sextile, a harmonious trine, and a balancing opposition involved there; planets and signs reflecting social concern, dynamism, and a solid work ethic. Planets' placements are forming several astrological patterns too - a Mystic Rectangle, a Yod, a T-square - among others, too many to interpret in this brief rundown.

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