Wichita State University has long embraced a special relationship with Kansas born photographer Gordon Parks. WSU has hosted a series of important exhibitions of his work over the past forty years, culminating in the 2008 acquisition of the Gordon Parks Papers for WSU Library Special Collections. Until recently, the Ulrich Museum housed limited examples of the artist’s photographs. In 2014, the Ulrich successfully completed a gift/purchase of 125 photographs from The Gordon Parks Foundation, quadrupling the museum’s holdings. Thanks to generous donors and visionary leadership, the Ulrich Museum of Art now houses 177 photographs surveying the entire career of Parks’ journalistic and artistic efforts. Wichita State University is now a premier venue for the study of the life and works of Gordon Parks.
This celebration of the Ulrich’s most recent Gordon Parks acquisitions surveys the life work of one of this country’s most important photographers. He captured the injustices of the Civil Rights Movement alongside the stark realities of world strife through images taken throughout the second half of the 20th century. Many of Gordon Parks’ best known photo essays for Lifemagazine are well represented, including Harlem Gang Leader, 1948, and Freedom’s Fearful Foe: Poverty, 1961. The Ulrich presentation is completed with a selection of Parks’ experimental color images produced in the last years of his life. In total,Visual Justice speaks to Parks’ genius as both an artist and humanitarian.
Gift/Purchase of The Gordon Parks Foundation. Courtesy and © of The Gordon Parks Foundation. Purchase made possible by a challenge grant from Paula and Barry Downing, with major support from the WSU Student Government Association; Mike and Dee Michaelis; Emprise Bank; and Jane and Reuben Saunders/Artworks. Additional support from Don and Lora Barry; David and Carolyn Blakemore; Jane C. McHugh; Ed and Helen Healy; Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson, & Kitch; Patty and Tony Vizzini; Bud and Toni Gates; and Bill and Alta DeVore.
The exhibition and associated programs are made possible by generous contributions from the Samuel M. and Laura H. Brown Charitable Trust administered by INTRUST Wealth, Mickey Armstrong, Kansas Health Foundation, and the Fidelity Bank Foundation. Additional support provided by Marcia and Ted D. Ayres, Ann and Martin Bauer, Joan S. Beren, Eric Engstrom and Robert Bell, Gridley Family Foundation, Rex and Denise Irwin, Jane C. McHugh, and Keith and Georgia Stevens.