A Harlem Family 1967 honours the legacy and the work of late iconic artist and photojournalist Gordon Parks, who would have turned 100 on November 30, 2012. The exhibition catalogue is co-published by The Studio Museum in Harlem and The Gordon Parks Foundation and features approximately eighty black and white photographs of the Fontenelle family, whose lives Gordon Parks documented as part of a 1968 Life magazine photo essay.
A searing portrait of poverty in the United States, the Fontenelle photographs provide a view of Harlem through the narrative of a specific family at a particular moment in time. Gordon Parks was born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912. An itinerant labourer, he worked as a brothel pianist and railcar porter, among other jobs, before buying a camera at a pawnshop, training himself, and becoming a photographer. In addition to his storied tenures at the Farm Security Administration, the Office of War Information (1941-1945) and Life magazine (1948-1972), Parks was a modern-day Renaissance man who found success as a film director, author and composer.
The first African-American director to helm a major motion picture, he popularised the Blaxploitation genre through his film Shaft (1971). He wrote numerous memoirs, novels and books of poetry and received many awards, including the National Medal of Arts and more than fifty honorary degrees. In 1997 the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., mounted his retrospective exhibition Half Past Autumn: The Art of Gordon Parks. Parks died in 2006.