American Gothic. Ella Watson and Gordon Parks
In the summer of 1942, during a yearlong fellowship in Washington, D.C., Gordon Parks photographed government worker Ella Watson across the varied landscape of her daily life. The resulting picture story presents Watson—a custodian, the head of a household, a deaconess at her church—as a vital figure within the civic sphere. At the same time, this intimate series reveals Parks’s experiences in coming to terms with the segregated city he once embraced as “the seat of democracy.”
This exhibition brings together nearly sixty photographs from their partnership and draws its title from one of the most celebrated photographs of the 20th century—an iconic portrait of Watson that Parks later titled “American Gothic.” Most importantly, it proposes new grounds for understanding Parks as an artist and activist, highlighting a unique professional collaboration between two Black federal employees at a crucial juncture in United States history.
Minneapolis Institute of Art
Harrison Photography Gallery
2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404
Opening hours: Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun: 10am–5pm