“I might have turned eventually to the gun or the knife to survive, but by then I had chosen the camera"
- Gordon Parks
The resources for A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks support creative and dynamic conversations about Gordon Parks and the ways his trailblazing work continues to inspire artists and filmmakers today. With background information, screening tips, discussion questions, and opportunities to engage more deeply with topics and images included in the documentary, the content is appropriate for adult learners, school-age classrooms, museum programs, and youth arts organizations.
Gordon Parks was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Known widely for his work in photography, including two decades as the first Black staff photographer for Life magazine, Parks was also a composer, writer, and filmmaker. As a young man he applied his artistic talents to support and express himself and quickly discovered the power of his creativity to shift mindsets and spark cultural and social change. From the 1940s up through the 2000s, Parks used images in magazines, books, and feature films to tell the stories of individuals and communities, the injustices they experienced and fought, and the dignity and humanity they maintained.
Engagement goals may include:
*Introduce new audiences to Gordon Parks
*Celebrate and recognize Gordon Parks as a photographer, author, filmmaker, and composer
*Recognize the artistic legacy of Gordon Parks through the work of contemporary artists
*Examine the power of representation in the media and understand the evolution of the still image
*Strengthen your group’s facility and fluency with understanding photo essays
*Explore the capacity for art to create change
This unit of six lessons for middle and high school students takes inspiration from Gordon Parks' extraordinary body of work and the artists he inspired that are working today. The activities and clips emphasize the value of observation, building authentic relationships and developing empathy, and engaging in activities connected to Parks’ artistic practices. We recommend reviewing the Introduction first as you plan for implementation of the lessons.
23 full-length interviews with filmmakers, photographers, art historians, critics, family members, and friends were filmed for A Choice of Weapons: Inspired by Gordon Parks. In this collection, they share insight, remembrances, and reflections on personal, professional, and creative relationships with Gordon Parks.