May 2 through June 22, 2019
At Fahey/Klein Gallery
Whimsical, pithy, potent and mystifying, Mary Ellen Mark, Photographs, an exhibition of works, has some of her masterpieces and a few surprises. The gallery celebrates the photographer’s unique eye for documentary photography and portraiture with a taste for the bizarre and ironic. With an inflection of Diane Arbus’ offbeat characters, Mark’s work also distilled a telling visual eloquence Americana in her images and the curious people who populated them.
The exhibition surveys highlights from many of her series including Indian Circus, humorous shots of performers and contortionists and their animals from India’s liveliest circuses. Selections from Twins explore siblings at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. Images from Mark’s work for LIFE magazine about the Damms, a homeless family in California, express the grim reality of survival on spare change and welfare checks.
Also on view will be work from Streetwise, which portrays homeless and troubled youth in Seattle including a girl named Tiny. Work from Tiny: Streetwise Revisited, her series completed in 2015, encapsulates Mark’s 30-plus years photographing Tiny, now a middle-aged mother of ten. Mark also photographed on film sets and is known for her celebrity portraits including images of Marlon Brando, Sean Penn, Woody Allen, and Yoko Ono.
Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015) was born in Philadelphia and achieved worldwide visibility through her photographs. For over four decades, she traveled extensively to make influential pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. During her lifetime, her photo essays and portraits were exhibited worldwide and appeared in numerous publications, including LIFE, The New York Times Magazine, and The New Yorker. Her photo essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of the Academy Award–nominated film Streetwise, directed and photographed by her husband Martin Bell, and was published in book form in 1988. Mark published 21 books.
Mary Ellen Mark’s work has been exhibited internationally and is in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and the International Center of Photography, New York; Bibliotheque nationale de France and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and many other prestigious centers and galleries of photography. Her honors and awards included a Fulbright Scholarship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Cornell Capa Award, and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from George Eastman House.