Florida A&M University is now the host of the Gordon Parks “Crossroads” exhibit, which opened to the public on Nov. 27 and will remain on display until Jan. 15.
It showcases a 45-piece photographic exhibition located on the second floor of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives and Museum.
Arvid Mukes, FAMU’s Graphic Communication Division director, Murell Dawson, the Exhibition Curator of the Black Archives and PRodigy, which is FAMU’s student run public relations firm, sponsored the Gordon Parks exhibit.
“The exhibit was presented to introduce individuals to Gordon Parks,” Mukes said. “It was a chance to see the most outstanding, marvelous, magnificent photography in the world. The Gordon Parks exhibit is the testimony to what anyone with the desire, the drive and the talent can do with their lives and that was why we put it on.”
Both Mukes and Dawson are on the same page. Dawson said that Parks was a hard worker and that he produced quality work.
“Parks gave us many types of gifts and more through his life and through his work,” Dawson said. “This exhibition is an example of how he continues to do so.”
When students enter the exhibit, they are exposed to information about his life story, like the fact he was born in Fort Scott, Kan. Parks was the youngest of 15 children and was taught to value education and equality. With determination, he went on to help found Essence? magazine, direct the 1971 film “Shaft”, and win many awards and accolades. His book “Born Black,” a compilation of essays, was awarded the Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
A tour of the exhibit displays his photographic talents. However, the exhibit also showcases that Parks was a poet, novelist, composer, musician and even a filmmaker.
His work has spanned decades and many people like Dorothy Bland, the director of the Division of Journalism, are familiar with it.
Bland said Parks was a gentleman who did magnificent things.
“I’ve had a love affair with Gordon Parks from a creative perspective,” she said. “He was an amazing man, just an all-around Renaissance man. What I was struck by was that his work is phenomenal. I was blown away. “
And she wasn’t the only one. Bernard Hendrix, a senior public relations student and a member of PRodigy agrees and said that Parks indeed had a talent.
“Gordon Parks had a plethora of great photographs,” said Hendrix, 21, a Marietta native. “His work is incomparable. His photos tell a story before you even look at the caption.”
Hendrix, along with Professor Gina L. Kinchlow, the PRodigy advisor, helped with the opening reception where Malia Lewis, the great-niece of Parks was a guest speaker. Her husband, Milton, is a graduate of the university with a bachelors of science in Graphic Design.
A reception for the exhibit was held Tuesday night. Lindsey Sarjeant, along with the FAMU Jazz Ensemble, provided music for the reception. The night ended with the official opening of the exhibit. “Crossroads” is a traveling exhibit, which means that people all over get to partake in a cultural learning experience.
“Gordon Parks belongs not only to America but to the world,” Dawson said. “It has been an honor to bring his story to our university and to the state. We are inviting the entire community to share in this unique opportunity.”