kat himmel | curious thing
history through portraiture
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polymath parks

polymath parks

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#art/#history: gordon parks, who died #otd in 2006, was first at loads of things. he was the first black american to direct & produce major films. with 1971's 'shaft', he (along with melvin van peebles & his 'sweet sweetback's baadasssss song') created a genre annointed 'blaxploitation' by then-head of the NAACP, junius griffin, & brought emancipated black experience to cinemas. nearly two decades prior, as the first black photojournalist to work for 'life' magazine, he used his privilege as the first black fashion photographer - & the camera he'd bought in seattle for $7.50 - to document the lives of migrants & poor minorities across the country, but most notably in chicago. i was so struck by this vibrant chi-town couple that i made them the focus of my tribute to gordon. i've been wondering all day about who they were & what they got up to, such is the power of mr parks' photography. throughout his life, gordon played & composed music. later, he took up writing & painting...then, in his spare time, he co-founded 'essence' magazine. i don't think polymath quite covers it. thank you, sir, for enriching our planet.

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