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    In 1956, Life magazine published twenty-six color photographs taken by staff photographer Gordon Parks. The photo essay, titled The Restraints: Open and Hidden, exposed Americans to the effects of racial segregation. Parks focused on the everyday activities of the related Thornton, Causey, and Tanner families in and near Mobile, Alabama, capturing their everyday struggles to overcome discrimination.

    Parks's photo essay served as crucial documentation of the Jim Crow South and acted as a national platform for challenging racial inequality. However, rather than focusing on the demonstrations, boycotts, and brutality that characterized the battle for racial justice, Parks emphasized the prosaic details of one family's life. In particular, his ability to elicit empathy through an emphasis on intimacy and shared human experience made the photographs especially poignant.

    The serene images provided an exceptional account of a nationwide struggle, yet one that remained invisible to many. Parks strove to undo racial stereotypes by providing a positive, complex account of real people. By contrasting the normal activities of daily life – preparing taxes, doing laundry, cooking dinners, cutting timber – with persistent evidence of social inequality, he exposed the damaging effects of racial and economic subjugation on the family's pride and opportunity.

    Although the pictures associated with Parks’s work for the segregation story were believed lost for several decades, The Gordon Parks Foundation recently uncovered more than two hundred transparencies that comprise the full series. This exhibition brings together more than forty of those images, many on view for the first time. Together, they give a sense of the complexity and breadth of Parks's vision and also provide a deeper look into the experience of segregation in the South.

    Exhibition Organization & Support
    This exhibition is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, in collaboration with The Gordon Parks Foundation.

    Support for this exhibition is provided by

    Coca-Cola Company - Sponsor of the High Museum of Art

    Additional support provided by leading corporate sponsors and benefactors for the 10th annual David C. Driskell Prize dinner held on May 2, 2014.

    Purchase the Exhibition Catalogue - Gordon Parks: Segregation Story

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