Photography to educate youth about social history - Ambassador Rivkin's tribute to Gordon Parks
On the occasion of the Paris Photo international show (November 15-18), Ambassador Rivkin hosted an event celebrating the great African-American photographer Gordon Parks in honor of the centennial of his birth (1912-2006).
A selection of 24 photos, made by the Gordon Parks Foundation and courtesy of the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, surveyed the African-American photographer’s best known images - including portraits of Civil Rights leaders, his work for the Farm Security Administration after the Great Depression, and iconic Paris fashion shows.
Guests in attendance included Gordon Parks Foundation Executive Director Peter W. Kunhardt Jr., Corcoran Gallery Director of Photography Paul Roth, Gordon Parks’s grandson Alain Brouillaud as well as his longtime fellow photographer and Paris resident John Morris who helped Parks “set a foot in Life magazine” as he told the audience.
In his remarks, Ambassador Rivkin quoted Gordon Parks himself summing up the photographer’s humanistic philosophy of life and setting the example for generations after him: “Enthusiasm is the electricity of life. How do you get it? You act enthusiastic until you make it a habit.”
Capitalizing on the Paris Photo event, the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy also organized a series of master classes about Gordon Parks’s life and work with Paul Roth, Senior Curator and Director, Photography and Media Arts Corcoran Gallery of Art & College of Art & Design, at the Ambassador’s Residence, reaching out to approximately 200 high school students (Auguste Renoir and Colbert high schools from Paris; Olympe de Gouge high school from Noisy-le-Sec; Jean Jaurès high school from Montreuil; Suger high school in Saint-Denis), students in visual arts at Paris 7 University and Louis Lumière school of cinema as well as a group of young educators from Nogent-sur-Oise.