My Introduction to Gordon Parks


Back in 2007, when I rented my first apartment in a cozy little art district west of Cleveland, a neighborhood called Tremont, I was excited to decorate! I had a vision: I wanted my apartment to be filled with warm colors and African art! I had a growing obsession for African textiles, statues, books- anything that had to do with the culture. Visiting the houses of mentors and professors had sparked this desire. In Nashville, I had gone to my roommates mentor’s house that was filled with things I had never before seen. In Washington, D.C., I once visited a professor’s house that had large pieces of art on any wall that was available. I wanted to try something like this. One day, I was browsing through a book about Gordon Parks, and in his New York apartment, he had large mixed-media paintings splattered with African symbols. There were stacks of books in corners and on window seals, artifacts, photos, plants- there was beauty everywhere. It was indeed a sanctuary adorned with mini altars. It truly felt like I lived there with him. He inspired me to decorate any place that I have ever lived since. I gaze at his photos of Black humanity, then I close my eyes, and travel to the places he has been. He has taken me on wonderful journeys. I am humble. Gordon Parks has some of the most beautiful photos I have ever seen. The stories in the eyes of his subjects resonate in my ears. I love his work for it embodies me.

Thank you for reading,

Shila Iris