Their work is carrying on the late photographer’s legacy!
Bisa Butler, Andre D. Wagner, and Nicole R. Fleetwood have all been named 2022 Gordon Parks Foundation fellowship recipients.
The Gordon Parks Foundation has awarded fellowships annually since 2017 to individuals who share the foundation’s commitment to the late photographer’s vision for promoting social change through arts and humanities. This year, the foundation has announced its 2022 fellowship recipients which include photographer Andre D. Wagner, artist Bisa Butler, and author and curator Nicole R. Fleetwood, who will be receiving the inaugural Genevieve Young Fellowship in Writing.
The fellowship hopes to carry on Parks’ legacy by offering the same support to future creatives that Parks received when he was a burgeoning artist, awarded the Julius Rosenwald fellowship in 1941 that helped support his move to Washington D.C. and eventually helped solidify the trajectory of his career. A photographer, filmmaker, musician and author with a career spanning more than five decades, Parks is considered one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, using his work to highlight all facets of American life and culture including social justice, race relations, the civil rights movement, and the Black American experience.
The foundation’s mission of supporting and producing artistic and educational initiatives that advance the legacy of Parks is alive and well in the choosing of the new fellowship recipients. Andre D. Wagner is a Brooklyn based photographer known for his unique photographic processes and his rapturous portrayal of daily life. His work has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Timeand Vogue and he served as photographer for the culturally laden film Queen & Slim. Wagner says is honored to receive the fellowship, considering Parks a mentor of sorts.
“Since my first encounter with Parks’ autobiography in 2010, I’ve considered myself a student of his work. Over a decade later, I am honored to be awarded this fellowship by the Gordon Parks Foundation, which will provide me with the opportunity and resources to cultivate my own voice as an artist and photographer,” Wagner said via press release.
Butler, a textile artist who uses portrait quilts to reimagine Black life and empower those who have been marginalized uses all the tools in her wheelhouse to tell a story. From the sewing that she learned from her mother and grandmother, to the fabrics she chooses and the rich colors, Butler says it is all a part of the conversation, connecting past, present and future.
“As an artist, I have used quilt-making as a means of revealing essential, often hidden, truths about beauty, strength, and fragility in the human experience-themes that were central to Parks’ own work. I am thrilled to be a Gordon Parks Foundation Fellow and have the opportunity to explore this legacy in depth and how it can be carried forward,” Butler said.
Author, curator and 2021 MacArthur Fellow Grant Nicole R. Fleetwood is also a Parks Fellow recipient. She has been named the 2022 inaugural Genevieve Young fellow in writing, the very first individual to ever receive the prestigious award. The fellowship is named in honor of pioneering editor Genevieve Young, who was also Parks’ former wife, and served as estate executor and Foundation creator up until her passing in 2020. Young was key in developing the foundation and served as editor for Parks’ first book, The Learning Tree (1963), as well as his other endeavors outside of photography including as a journalist, novelist, poet and screenwriter.
Fleetwood is the James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU. Much of her research and writing has focused on representations of Blackness in art and culture, her newest book and exhibition, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, examining the significance of the art of incarcerated people.
“I am deeply honored to be the inaugural Genevieve Young Fellow in Writing at the Gordon Parks Foundation, as Gordon Parks has long been an enormous influence on my teaching, curating, and writing. Working in collaboration with the Foundation, this Fellowship will allow me to explore and gain greater understanding of cross-disciplinary influences of the many artistic forms that Parks was engaged in-from photography to music to fashion to cinema and design,” said Fleetwood.
The fellows will each receive $25,000 to support new or ongoing projects that highlight themes of social justice or representation. Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Executive Director of The Gordon Parks Foundation, spoke about the significance of the fellows, saying, “We are proud to support the work of Bisa, Andre, and Nicole, who each carry Parks’ legacy forward through work that is innovative, inspirational, and critical at this moment. As we welcome the 2022 fellows and recognize their important work, we also reflect on the pioneering contributions of Genevieve Young, whose accomplishments in publishing and unwavering commitment to Gordon Parks’ legacy continue to resonate.”
To learn more about the Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowships, click here.
Congratulations, to all of the 2022 Gordon Parks Fellows!
(l to r) Bisa Butler, Andre D. Wagner, Nicole R. Fleetwood. Photo Courtesy of Gioncarlo Valentine, Ike Edeani, Nicole R. Fleetwood