Summary: These black-and-white images are produced on wonderful paper and with great quality. They explore the underlying human qualities we all share. The work is introduced by a Maya Angelou poem, and is concluded by an excellent essay in which Ms. Mark explains her work. Her subjects are mostly people of the economic and social underclasses as they pursue their hopes and dreams, while dealing with their day-to-day problems. Viewing these photographs will draw you closer to people who, on the surface, are quite different from you. The models are often captured over time and in alternative settings to help explain their lives and personalities.
Content Caution: The images in this book contain a few involving minor female nudity that would earn its contents an R rating if it were a motion picture.
"I note the obvious differences
in the human family."
" . . . but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike." -- Maya Angelou
The theme of this poem nicely captures the focus of this book of loving photographic images. As Ms. Mark says, "I much prefer to photograph people I care about." She wants to "build a rapport with my subjects." In studying them, "I am guided by what moves and surprises me." That final element will affect you as well. Too often, we mentally pass by those around us. Ms. Mark's images make us want to reach out with our hearts and minds.
The book shows people from all parts of America over the period from 1963 through 1999. The photographs portray all kinds of races, creeds, colors, and political and sexual persuasions. Ideas that you may not like are portrayed involving people you will probably find appealing. That juxtaposition of people and issues will cause you to rethink how you relate to others. It will probably make you more modest and humble, and that's good. Special themes involve the mentally ill, twins, homelessness, beauty contests, political rallies, and families over time.
My favorite images in the book are as follows:
Santa Claus at Lunch, New York City, 1963;
Marky Mark concert, Jersey City, New Jersey, 1993;
Hot Tub, West Orange, New Jersey, 1999;
Bodybuilder, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1991;
Russell, Kansas, 1986;
Mary Frances in the tub, Ward 81, Salem, Oregon, 1976;
Jail, Houston, Texas, 1977;
Husband and wife, Harland County, Kentucky, 1971;
Jesse Damm, Llano, California, 1994;
Hurstie Laxton after the flood, St. Louis, Missouri, 1993;
Million Youth March, New York City, 1998;
Lakiesha, South Dallas, Texas, 1988;
Clinton Albright and his father, Santa Clarita, California, 1982;
Nightclub off of Highway 61, Michigan, 1991;
Vashira and Tashira Hargrove, twins, H.E.L.P. Shelter, Suffolk, New York, 1993; and
Tiny, pregnant, Seattle, Washington, 1985.
After you see these photographs, you will probably agree with Ms. Mark that she has been on "a long and blessed journey" that has opened her heart and ours.
Seeing these photographs should encourage you to become acquainted with people you see who you would normally not think to speak to. Try living that way for a day. If you enjoy the experience, keep on going -- taking it . . . one day at a time.
Find the common ground . . . wherever you go!