Gordon Parks Crossroads Photography Exhibit Review: Fighting With a Camera Instead of a Gun

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to view the second of only two art exhibits this year of photographer, Gordon Parks. This year marks the centennial of the birth of Gordon Parks, who was a poet, novelist, composer, musician, filmmaker, and seminal figure of 20th century photography. His work not only encompassed the grittiness of the streets and racism, the beauty of fashion and women, but also youth whose simplicity and joy in life was there regardless of surroundings. 

Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas in 1912. He bought his first camera in a pawn shop in 1938 and taught himself how to use it, beginning a career that began at the Farm Security Administration (F.S.A.), and included Vogue magazine, and Life Magazine, where he became the first African American staff photographer and writer for what was then the world’s most prominent photojournalism magazine. 

Parks was a humanitarian and an activist; his work often championed social justice and equality. While he is primarily known for his photography, Parks also wrote and directed several films, including Shaft and Super Fly, both major successes. His prolific professional life included playing jazz piano, composed and choreographed a ballet, published several books of poetry, and wrote a novel. This exhibition features Parks’ most famous photographs such as American Gothic, Washington D.C.,

The exhibit at York College of Pennsylvania features Parks' most famous photographs, such as "American Gothic, "Emerging Man," and "Muhammad Ali." 

“Crossroads,” the exhibition featuring the work of the late Gordon Parks, will be displayed in York College's Cora Miller Gallery from Oct. 4 – Nov. 14

“I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty. I could have just easily picked up a knife or a gun, like many of my childhood friends did, most of who were murdered or put in prison, but I chose not to go that way. I felt that I could somehow subdue these evils by doing something beautiful that people recognize me by, and thus make a whole different life for myself.” Gordon Parks.