Tag Archives: Shaft

Gordon Parks | PORTRAITS OF AN AMERICAN ICON

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This past Saturday saw the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival draw to a close. My wife, sister-in-law and I took advantage of the great weather and spent the day visiting the exhibits along Queen West.

From documentary street scenes in Vancouver to interesting, colourful houses in Newfoundland to portraits of flood victims around the world, Herero people from Namibia in ceremonial garb to images of a pre Olympic Sochi, this year’s CONTACT Festival was fantastic. One of my personal highlights was the last exhibit we saw. Gordon Parks, Portraits is a fantastic exhibit of an American icon on display at the BAND gallery on Lansdowne and Queen.

The mandate for BAND or Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue, is to support and showcase the work and contributions of Black Artists in Canada and abroad. The Gordon Parks exhibit which showcases 43 works by the legendary photographer is on loan from the Gordon Parks Foundation. 

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The power of Gordon Parks imagery is set against a backdrop of a changing world. The exhibit seems chronological as we move from images of poverty in the 40s, 50s and 60s to the Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Parks also documents the rise of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers. The exhibit ends in a little room where an informative documentary, Half Past Autumn: The Life and Work of Gordon Parks, is screened.

Long before the Civil Rights movement. Parks worked at both Vogue and Life Magazines. He documented some of the most important moments in American history made history himself, as a photographer, author, musician and the director of groundbreaking films like Leadbelly, Shaft and Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, a story that would later be retold in the Oscar winning Twelve Years a Slave. His camera was a weapon against injustice and he was a creative force who demanded equality through his undeniable talent and unbreakable spirit.

Do yourself a favor and check out this fantastic exhibit. It runs till August 3rd. The Gallery is at Black Artists’ Networks in Dialogue (BAND), 1 Lansdowne Ave 2nd Fl M5K 2V7

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