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Gallery Presents "Gordon Parks: Crossroads" Art Exhibit
01.09.13 |
Lebanon Valley College's Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery will open its newest exhibition, "Gordon Parks: Crossroads" with an Opening Reception Friday, Jan. 18 from 5 to 7 p.m. Parks was one of the first African American photographers to break the color barrier at a major magazine.

Best known as a photographer, Gordon Parks (1912-2006), was also a novelist, poet, movie director, composer, musician, and witness to vast social change over the course of his lifetime. The images in this exhibition provide a survey of those changes. His revelations of the class inequities in images such as "Drinking Fountains, Birmingham, Alabama" (1956), served to open the eyes of the American public to racial segregation.

Acclaimed for his photo-journalistic essays, Parks was one of the first African American photographers to break the color barrier at a major magazine. In the foreword to Parks' memoir, "To Smile in Autumn," Alexs D. Pate remarks that "He was the first black fashion photographer at Vogue, the first black photographer at Life magazine, and the first black director of a Hollywood movie."

Born to a poor farm family in Fort Scott, Kansas, Parks was the last child of 15. He credits his mother, who died when he was a teenager, for instilling his personality with a tenacious perseverance. After she died, he lived briefly with a married sister in Minnesota, but after her husband kicked him out of the house he lived on the streets, riding trolley cars at night for refuge, working as a busboy in a hotel, playing piano in a bordello, and waiting tables in a dining car on the North Coast Limited. It was by reading discarded magazines on that train that he was impacted by the social documentary photographs of migrant workers produced for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) by photographers such as Arthur Rothstein, Russell Lee, Walker Evans, and Dorothea Lange.

In 1937, he happened to see a Chicago movie theater newsreel about Japanese planes bombing a United States gunboat on the Yangtze River. The photographer who shot the film was introduced to the audience afterward, and Parks recalled in his 1965 memoir, A Choice of Weapons, that "even before I left the theater I had made up my mind I was going to become a photographer."

In addition to the exhibition, the Gallery will present a lecture and photography workshop:

Lecture: Thursday, Feb. 7, 5 p.m., Zimmerman Recital Hall

Painter and photographer Adger Cowans worked with Gordon Parks and will be hosting a lecture, "A Personal View of Gordon Parks by Adger Cowans."

Photography Workshop: Saturday, February 16, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

"Photographing Our Times: The Lyrical in the Banal." Carl Socolow is a professional photographer and recipient of the 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship in Photography.

Gallery hours are Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m.; Thursdays and Fridays from 1 to 4:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and by appointment for groups. Schools and other organizations are encouraged to contact the Gallery for a guided visit. Additional information is available at,, or 717-867-6445. "Gordon Parks: Crossroads" closes March 17.

"Gordon Parks: Crossroads" is sponsored by McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC, the LVC Office of Multicultural Affairs, a Darrell Woomer Diversity Program Endowment grant, and contributing members of the Friends of the Gallery. The exhibition is organized by art2art Circulating Exhibitions.

Image at right:
Johanna Fiore, Portrait of Gordon Parks, 1997, Iris Print, 20 x 15 inches.
Image courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation and the Howard Greenberg Gallery.

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