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  • Gordon Parks, Shoes, Fort Scott, Kansas, 1950, gelatin silver print, 14 × 11". © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

    “Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott”

    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
    465 Huntington Avenue
    January 17 - September 13

    Curated by Karen Haas

    Even before photojournalist, director, and author Gordon Parks was “Gordon Parks,” his biographical arc—youthful escape from the black quotidian followed by loving, professional return—seemed as much his subject as whatever might be before his lens. Parks was born in segregated Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912; in 1950, he went home as Life magazine’s first black photographer to capture the adult circumstances of his elementary school classmates. His document of the pre–Brown v. Board moment wasn’t published (Life covered General MacArthur’s 1951 canning by Truman instead), but curator Karen Haas has recovered it in the form of forty-one select prints and a more expansive book introduced by renowned author Isabel Wilkerson. Most striking may be the reminder of how painfully unsettled Parks’s physical and psychic geographies remain for us. Fort Scott sits just southeast of Topeka, site of the “board” in Brown v. and only “4 h 40 minutes without traffic,” Google Maps assures us, from Ferguson, Missouri.