More Than Just Pretty Pictures

The Fireside—News and Views from The Living New Deal

More Than Just Pretty Pictures

Gordon Parks. Credit: Toni Parks, The Gordon Parks Foundation

Gordon Parks’ work epitomized the black-and-white photography of the Depression era. He joined the Farm Security Administration in 1942—the agency’s only black photographer. He chronicled African Americans’ everyday lives, poverty, racial injustice, and the struggle for civil rights. Parks died in 2006 at age 93, but continues to inspire a new generation of photographers documenting these turbulent times. Reflecting on Gordon Parks, the Brooklyn-based photographer Andre D. Wagner recounts, “The camera in my life started to make sense when I thought about it the way Parks did: I could use it as a weapon.” “Photography became more than just pretty pictures—it was a way to be defiant and to speak about society.” Watch Wagner’s video essay “On Being a Black Photographer.” (4 minutes).

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New Deal Maps

Check out our latest map and guide to the work of the New Deal in Washington, D.C. It includes 500 New Deal sites in the District alone, highlighting 34 notable sites, and includes an inset map of the area around the National Mall which can be used for self-guided walking tours.

Take a look at our previous guides, equally comprehensive, covering key New Deal sites in San Francisco and New York City.