SPOTLIGHT: Gordon Parks

American Photographer Gordon Parks has been called “the most important black photographer in the history of photojournalism” – the man who taught himself how to take pictures at the age of twenty-five with a Voigtländer Brillant that he purchased at a pawn shop.

In 1948, after a stint with the Farm Security Administration (F.S.A.) covering the nation’s social conditions, he garnered attention with his photo essay on the life of a Harlem gang leader that won him widespread acclaim and a place as the first African-American staff photographer and writer for Life Magazine – where he stayed for two decades. Parks work captures some of the most iconic moments in American Culture from the early 1940’s up until his death in 2006.  As a humanitarian, he seemed most passionate about capturing the nation in its moments of social upheaval with an air of timelessness. His lens so often found the dignity and pride of the people whose portraits accompanied these stories.


Parks was multi-faceted man – he was also a humanitarian, a musician, a film director, and a writer. “He spent much of the last three decades of his life expanding his style, conducting experiments with color photography. He continued working up until his death in 2006, winning many awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 1988, and over fifty honorary doctorates. He was also a noted composer and author, and in 1969, became the first African-American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. This was followed in 1971 by the hugely successful motion picture Shaft. The core of his accomplishment, however, remains his photography the scope, quality, and enduring national significance of which is reflected throughout the Collection. According to Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Center at Harvard University, “Gordon Parks is the most important black photographer in the history of photojournalism. Long after the events that he photographed have been forgotten, his images will stay with us, testaments to the genius of his art, transcending time, place and subject.”**

You can become better acquainted with his legacy of work at The Gordon Parks Foundation.

*Come follow us on Twitter today (@hahamag #spotlightseries) as we tweet links to Gordon Park’s work online.



Gordon Parks, “Untitled,” Alabama (1956), Archival Pigment Print, 12 × 18 inches (© Gordon Parks Foundation, courtesy of the Foundation and Salon 94)

*images courtesy of Time Magazine. **quote from Biography of Parks at Gates Foundation website.



 (132,000+)The response to these haunting pictures taken in abandoned amusement parks by Francesco Mugnai was overwhelming. Most of you thought it was “creepy yet beautiful, scary, cool or wanted to find one of your own to film in.


ERIN RILEY’S TABOO TAPESTRY (77,000+)Fiber artist Erin M. Riley tackles depictions of female sexuality, drug use, birth control, car crashes, selfies, among others…all on her loom.  77,000 of you think these are some bad ass tapestries – and I agree. Erin had a great year as well. She had several solo shows and was repped’ hard at Pulse NY Fair and Miami’s Select Fair. If you don’t have the dough to pick up one of her pieces – you can still make off with one of her limited edition patches. I’m thinking late stocking stuffers.


YOU AND ME (25,000+)You folks really enjoyed Zhang Zhaohui’s interactive adult sized metal cut out’s, ‘You & Me’ set up in the famous 798 Art District in Beijing China.


PARISIAN STREET ARTIST: LEVALET (6,000+) In the midst of the Banksy NYC residency, photos of French Street Artist, Levalet were popping up all over Instagram. His black & white wheat pastes interacting with their surroundings in a way that continued to amuse us in the way Banksy did in the past.

(5,000+) We stumbled onto a gem when we caught sight of Singapore artist, Izziyana Suhaimi who incorporates embroidery into her pencil & watercolor portraits. These quirky mixed media portraits surprise and pop with color and depth – you guys loved how she transformed this traditional form of stitching.

Shawn Huckins’s ‘American Revolution Revolution’

Because He Has Swag And Knows How To Wear His Pants:

Because He Has Swag And Knows How To Wear His Pants:

The Transient State of Mr. Henry Rice

The Transient State of Mr. Henry Rice

BF's Comment: Laughing My Ass Off

BF’s Comment: Laughing My Ass Off


We’re big fans of Shawn Huckins work – he has such a wide range of focus. We featured his paint chip paintings just a few months ago, now we’re taking these modern romps through the old world with his continuing work on ‘The American Revolution Revolution’. His paintings feel so naughty and rebellious, they are blended so perfectly with the vibe of old vs. new it’s as if he ran through the Early Decades wing of a museum tagging paintings. Recently it’s been his series, The American Revolution Revolution that’s garnering lots of attention and shooting up the price tags on his work – we suggest you get one while you still can.

Be sure to check out more works by SHAWN HUCKINS .


"Maurice Quentin de La Tour: Wink Face"

“Maurice Quentin de La Tour: Wink Face”

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement with a Mural

Street artist, JR – known for his trademark B&W portraits that flank inner city communities – marked the 50th Anniversary of Civil Rights Activist, Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech by using real archived photographs from the Civil Rights Movement to create giant murals in the Sweet Auburn district of Atlanta, Georgia where King grew up.

King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered on August 28th, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. to over 250,000 civil rights supporters.

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

JR Pays Tribute to the Civil Rights Movement

*Steven Blum’s photograph from the Poor People’s Campaign of 1968,courtesy Emory University’s SCLC collection, was turned into a 30-foot-by-40-foot mural at Auburn Avenue and Hilliard Street. Flip Schulke’s photograph from the 1963 March on Washington was turned into an 18-foot-by-35-foot mural at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Hilliard Street. Elaine Tomlin’s photograph from the 1995 Million Man March, courtesy Emory University’s SCLC collection, is now a mural at Edgewood Avenue and Jessie Hill Drive.

via Creative Loafing where you can read Debbie Michaud’s Q&A with JR.

*Image credit: Dustin Chambers

The Art of Ann Marshall

sunshine and molasses 

We love browsing the internet and stumbling across an artist whose work was previously unknown to us.  Enter, Ann Marshall, from Atlanta, Georgia.  Ann’s work caught our attention with her fascinating portraits that take on familiar collage elements with an added mix of photography, painting, and drawing.

HAHA MAG: Ann, while I was looking at your work, I couldn’t help but think of Klimt. Is he one of your artistic influences?

Ann Marshall: Klimt is an influence, but one of many. My interest has always been painting individuals, but not necessarily perfectly replicating an entire environment since the camera is far more efficient at this and it’s a far too rigid a goal to be enjoyable (at least for me). I find this style allows me to merge my two interests while tackling the elusiveness of personality and inner worlds. My subjects, like myself, are essentially introverted.

Other influences include Rembrandt, Goya, Holbein, Durer, Memling, Vermeer, and Bellini (all of which are great in sympathetically portraying humanity, in all its complications).  I could go on, but this list is getting troublingly random.


HM: I love the fact that you stated your work was somewhat “low tech.” It brings an elegance and clarity to your work.

AM: I enjoy working by hand. While the technology to produce digital work has improved in the last ten years, I still prefer the experience of making things in real space more. It’s messier, less exact and certainly a lot more flaw prone. But in the end, I think handmade works possesses a warmth and humanity that a lot of digital work still lacks. Also, I have a hard time sitting in one position all day. I was in an accident a year ago, and as a result, can become uncomfortable if I have to sit in the same position for hours at a time. Really heavy long term computer use is probably out for me.


HM: While looking at your pieces, I noticed that there were no males used. Is this intentional?

AM: Actually, my boyfriend is in there somewhere, but yes, I mostly paint woman because I think they are more fun to paint.


HM: In terms of art, what moves or inspires you?

AM: I saw a Fra Angelico show at the Met years ago that nearly brought me to tears it was so beautiful. Contemporary Chinese and Japanese work has a vitality that’s hard to beat, and there’s a Brazilian artist Herbert Baglione whose work I’m currently obsessed with. In terms of good figurative composition, comic and graphic novel artists are the best.


HM: While we’re talking about inspiration, you not too long ago took on a very important project.  How did you come to illustrate a children’s book on the Holocaust?

AM: I actually went to art school to become a children’s book illustrator and this was my first book. Luba, The Angel of Bergen Belsen was written by Michelle McCann and was an amazing account of a woman responsible for saving 54 children at Bergen Belson.  I remember lying in bed the night I got the project thinking “I’ve just accepted a children’s book on the Holocaust… Dear God what have I done.”

It was a tricky project because of the subject matter and there was a very thin tight rope to walk. If the illustrations were too realistic, it would be inappropriate for children; to rosey, and you are making light of the Holocaust.  It seemed impossible. I locked myself in my apartment for six months a worked on the art. Thinking and learning about the Holocaust for that period of time is not easy and eventually I started listening to trashy novels while I worked as an escape. Still, it was fascinating project.

After the project ended, it won a few awards and I eventually met Luba and a few of the children she saved. I will never forget the experience. They were some of the most impressive people I have ever met.

To see more of Ann’s work, please visit her website at

By Leigh Karen Labay