The Gordon Parks Foundation has awarded its 2020 fellowships to artists Nina Chanel Abney and Tyler Mitchell. They will each receive $20,000 in support of new or ongoing projects that are centered on issues of social justice. The projects will be presented in exhibitions at the Gordon Parks Foundation Gallery in Pleasantville, New York, over the next two years.
“Gordon Parks has made so much possible in the current landscape of photography and fashion,” said Mitchell, who made history last year, when he became the first black photographer to shoot a cover of Vogue. “By blending genres to expand on the lexicon of what black life looks like, he set the precedent for what I’m doing now. I couldn’t be more excited to be a Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow and have the opportunity to explore his legacy in more depth.”
Now in its fourth cycle, the fellowship program was established to honor photographer Gordon Parks and in recognition of the significant impact a fellowship had on his own career. In 1941, Parks became the first recipient of a fellowship with the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which was founded in 1917 to support African Americans whose work focused on social issues and education. The experience allowed Parks to move to Washington, DC, and apprentice for Roy Stryker at the Farm Security Administration, launching his seven-decade career as photographer, filmmaker, writer, and humanitarian. Previous fellows include and Derrick Adams, Deana Lawson, and Hank Willis Thomas.
“The Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship program is an important means of continuing Parks’ legacy through the support of artists working for social change and across disciplines,” said Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., the foundation’s executive director. “Both Nina and Tyler have established themselves as pioneers through both their aesthetic and social practices, and we are proud to play a role in building on their artistic contributions and enabling their future projects.”