Gordon Parks Foundation Names 2022 Fellows

January 27th, 2022

The Gordon Parks Foundation announced textile artist Bisa Butler and photographer Andre D. Wagner as the recipients of its 2022 fellowships and named and author and curator Nicole R. Fleetwood as the inaugural Genevieve Young Fellow in Writing. Each will receive an award of $25,000 in aid of new and ongoing project centered around representation and social justice; Butler and Wagner will each exhibit their work in a solo show at the foundation’s Pleasantville, New York, gallery.

“We are proud to support the work of Bisa, Andre, and Nicole, who each carry Parks’s legacy forward through work that is innovative, inspirational, and critical at this moment,” said the foundation’s executive director, Peter W. Kunhardt Jr. The Gordon Parks Foundation in 2017 launched the arts fellowships in honor of Parks, who received similar support early in his photography career.

Butler, who creates quilts that celebrate Black life and are based on photographs, said in a statement that she was “thrilled” to have an opportunity to explore and carry forward Parks’s legacy, pointing to her own interest in “revealing essential, often hidden, truths about beauty, strength, and fragility in the human experience—themes that were central to Parks’s own work.” Butler, trained as a painter, took up quiltmaking in honor of her grandmother.

Wagner’s photos of daily life are much in the vein of Parks’s own. He cited this fact in a statement, noting that he had considered himself a student of the legendary photographer’s work ever since reading his autobiography over a decade ago. “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,” he said. He is presently editing a long-term project titled New City, Old Blues.

The Genevieve Young Fellowship in Writing, named for Parks’s former wife, a renowned book editor, expands the foundation’s reach and honors Young’s work. Fleetwood, its first recipient, is widely known for her groundbreaking 2020 book Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. The curator of numerous exhibitions, she is the inaugural James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and a 2021 MacArthur Fellow. Fleetwood named Parks as an outsize influence on her own work, saying in a statement, “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.”