Exhibition of Photographer and Rosenwald Fellow Gordon Parks at Harlem Gallery

Posted on July 24th, 2012 by

Side view of the Schomburg Center, 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, Harlem, New York
Photo credit: Michael Rose, July 20, 2012

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, at 135th Street and Malcolm X Boulevard in New York City, is showing a collection of works by the great African American photographer Gordon Parks, who passed away in 2006. The exhibition is in commemoration of what would have been Parks 100th birthday, and will be on display until the end of the year. It was advertised in the Arts section of last week’s New York Times.

Gordon Parks in the FSA office
Photo credit: Library of Congress, ca. 1943

The exhibit focuses on Parks’ work in the 1940s with the Farm Security Administration. Parks joined the FSA after being awarded a Rosenwald Fund grant in 1942, which he received on the strength of his photographs of Chicago’s South Side. The current exhibit displays some similar black and white portraits and street scenes of black neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and Harlem that he took in the early 1940s for the FSA and the Office of War Information. In addition to those included in this blog, hundreds of Parks’s photographs are available online at the Library of Congress. A documentary about Parks’ career entitled Half Past Autumn is also part of the exhibit and will screen at least once more at the Schomburg Center, this August.

“Anacostia, D.C. Frederick Douglass housing project. Playing in the community sprayer ”
Photo credit: Gordon Parks, 1942, Office of War Information, LOC

“New York, New York. A Harlem newsboy”
Photo Credit: Gordon Parks, 1943, Office of War Information, LOC

The Schomburg Center is located just half a block from the famous Harlem YMCA. This towering mid-block building was funded in part by a Rosenwald “challenge grant,” and is probably the largest structure built as part of Rosenwald’s YMCA campaign. Parks, like many other new arrivals to Harlem, stayed at the YMCA for some time when he was new to the city. When I visited the gallery, 135th Street was crowded with the 2012 Harlem Book Fair.

Schomburg Center foreground, Harlem Rosenwald YMCA background
Photo credit: Michael Rose, July 20, 2012

By Michael Rose