We are pleased to announce that Devin Allen of Baltimore and Harriet Dedman of New York are the inaugural recipients of The Gordon Parks Foundation Fellowship program. Established in 2017, the grant annually supports photographers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians working within the theme of social justice. The fellowships support projects reflecting the range of artistic disciplines, passion, vision and humanity of Gordon Parks as well as projects that illustrate the role Parks played in the artistic, social, historical or cultural events of his time and his continued relevance today. The 2017 recipients are both photographers, however the fellowship program supports all mediums. The Foundation’s executive director, Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., said, “Devin and Harriet’s work truly embodies the spirit of Gordon Parks: they are story tellers who use their visions and technical abilities to portray their subjects with respect and honesty. The Gordon Parks Foundation is honored to name them the first Gordon Parks Fellows and we look forward to following their professional progress in years to come.”
Devin Allen gained national attention when his documentary photograph of the Baltimore Uprising was published on a Time Magazine cover in May 2015 – only the third time the work of an amateur photographer had been showcased there. The mission of his Through Their Eyes project is to arm Baltimore’s youth with cameras, not guns. Allen said, “With arts education programs in schools across the country being cut and underfunded, the need for fine arts programs for students is imperative especially for those who lean on creative spaces to express, explore, and deter them from negative alternatives.” Allen provides students with cameras, donates his time holding youth photography workshops, and organizes exhibitions of the students’ work. Allen is dedicated to empowering young people to tell their stories: “I can't mentor everybody, but I do my best to inspire them to chase their dreams. This grant will allow me to purchase more cameras and work with and inspire more kids here in Baltimore City…This is the most important thing I can do.”
Harriet Dedman is a British journalist, photographer, and filmmaker working in New York. Her multimedia project Beneath These Restless Skies “seeks to address issues of identity and opportunity - 50 years after Gordon Parks,” Dedman says. Dedman has immersed herself in the lives of the Brown family – particularly 24 year old Trevor Brown - living on the same block of 123rd Street in Harlem where Parks documented the Fontenelle family living in poverty in 1967. Dedman follows “Young Trev” who is unemployed and has limited prospects. The fellowship will support Dedman’s continue work on the project which will culminate in an exhibition and interactive multimedia piece.