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Gordon Parks Foundation Fellows Use Family as Subjects to Discuss African American Life

"Crossroads" by Derrick Adams (photo courtesy of Gordon Parks Foundation)
"Crossroads" by Derrick Adams (photo courtesy of Gordon Parks Foundation)

The Gordon Parks Foundation presents the work of the Foundation’s Fellows, Deana Lawson and Derrick Adams, in its American Family exhibition through January 25 in Pleasantville.  Each artist’s personal approach to their familial subjects lends complexity to the definition of a broader subject at hand – a contemporary look at the daily lives of African Americans. Multidisciplinary artist Derrick Adams uses collage and photography to examine the influence of popular culture and media on one’s self-image, using family members as his subjects. Lawson redefines the common image of black life, freeing her subjects by redirecting the viewer’s negative misconceptions. She explains: “Like Parks, my motivation is to give meaningful texture and complexity to images of global black culture.”

Gordon Parks was an influential photographer in the twentieth century who had a strong commitment to social justice.  As such, the Foundation’s fellowship program supports artists who work within the topics of social justice and representation. Along with the work of 2018 fellows Lawson and Adams, the exhibition will showcase a selection of family portraits taken by Parks.  According to Executive Director Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Lawson and Adams “are creating narratives about the American scene in much the same way as Gordon Parks did throughout his life… they each take such bold approaches to exploring connections between people.”  For more info, visit gordonparksfoundation.org.

A version of this article first appeared in the December/January issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.

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