Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey, 1963-1999

Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey, 1963-1999

5.0 1
by Mary Ellen Mark, Maya Angelou
"Mark works in a classic documentary mode: her work imprints itself on viewers in the way that only great photography can." --Harpers Bazaar

Recently voted by the readers of American Photography as their favorite woman photographer of all time, Mary Ellen Mark has made some of America's most iconic photographs. She is unsurpassed at shaping both


"Mark works in a classic documentary mode: her work imprints itself on viewers in the way that only great photography can." --Harpers Bazaar

Recently voted by the readers of American Photography as their favorite woman photographer of all time, Mary Ellen Mark has made some of America's most iconic photographs. She is unsurpassed at shaping both the odd and the everyday into genuinely surprising photographs that subtly yet powerfully challenge our preconceptions or intensify our convictions. Mary Ellen Mark's poetic and at times disquieting photographs form a fascinating portrait of a complex, amusing, and occasionally unsettling country and its people.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
With a candid intimacy uniquely her own, acclaimed photographer Mark partners with her subjects to make compassionate and complex portraits. By photographing her subjects in their environments, she creates powerful contextual images that make larger comments on the state of affairs in U.S. society. The images span the United States, ranging from Aryan Nations members in Idaho to rodeo workers in Texas, ballroom dancers in Florida, and shelter residents in New York. Also notable are the serial portraits done over years, as with those of Tiny from Seattle (1983-99) and the Damm family (1987-94). This quality collection is an exciting confirmation of Mark's contribution to contemporary photography and will serve both those familiar with her work, as well as newcomers. Mark's 12th book, this first broad survey of her American photographs from the beginnings of her career in 1963 to the present accompanies a major traveling retrospective organized by Aperture opening next month at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries, this is also an affordable overview of her work for small public libraries.--Debora Miller, Minneapolis Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Encompassing 35 years of work, this tribute to the strength (and frailty) of the American spirit takes us on a remarkable journey to places both forgotten and ignored. At senior citizen dance contests, KKK rallies, housing projects, meetings for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance and baby beauty pageants, Mark has assembled an intimate documentary that is moving rather than mocking...
In Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey, the black-and-white photographs continue to challenge our preconceptions...Mark emotionally engages her subjects, and through this bond we, as viewers, are drawn in too.
The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

Aperture Foundation
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
11.03(w) x 12.65(h) x 1.06(d)

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Mary Ellen Mark: American Odyssey, 1963-1999 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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. Review: '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! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution