Tiny: Streetwise Revisited, photographs by Mary Ellen Mark
Wednesday, May 25
8:30 p.m. EDT
In 1983, Mary Ellen Mark began a project called Streetwise. Five years later, it became a poignant document of a fiercely independent group of homeless and troubled youth who made their way on the streets of Seattle as pimps, prostitutes, panhandlers, and small-time drug dealers. Streetwise introduced several unforgettable children, including Tiny, who dreamed of a horse farm, diamonds and furs, and a baby of her own. Since meeting Tiny thirty years ago, Mark continued to photograph her, creating what became one of Mark’s most significant and long-term projects. The exhibition Tiny: Streetwise Revisited incorporates the most powerful images from Streetwise, taking us from thirteen-year-old Tiny to the middle-aged mom of ten we meet today. Exhibition texts and captions are drawn from conversations between Tiny and Mary Ellen Mark, as well as with Mark’s husband, filmmaker Martin Bell, who made the landmark film Streetwise, also included in the exhibition.
Tiny: Streetwise Revisited (Aperture, 2016), photographs and afterword by Mary Ellen Mark, with essays by Isabel Allende and John Irving
Renowned photographer Mary Ellen Mark’s (born in Philadelphia, 1940; died in New York, 2015) numerous honors and awards included a Fulbright Scholarship, Guggenheim Fellowship, Cornell Capa Award, and the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from George Eastman House. During her lifetime, her photo-essays and portraits were exhibited worldwide and appeared in numerous publications, including Life, the New York Times Magazine, and the New Yorker. Her photo-essay on runaway children in Seattle became the basis of the Academy Award–nominated film Streetwise, directed and photographed by her husband, Martin Bell, and was published in book form in 1988. Mark published twenty-one books, including American Odyssey (Aperture, 1999), Twins (Aperture, 2003),Exposure (2005), Seen Behind the Scene (2009), Prom (2012), and Tiny: Streetwise Revisited (Aperture, 2015). In addition to producing her own work, Mark taught photography workshops for nearly thirty years; her thoughts on teaching are captured in one of her final titles, Mary Ellen Mark on the Portrait and the Moment (Aperture’s Photography Workshop Series, 2015).
Martin Bell (born 1943) started out as a freelance cinematographer for documentaries and television dramas in his native England before coming to the United States thirty-five years ago. Bell has directed documentaries such as the Academy Award–nominated Streetwise (1984), which followed the lives of runaway kids on the streets of Seattle, and The Amazing Plastic Lady (1993), set in the Indian Circus. He has directed narrative feature films, including Hidden in America (1996), a portrait of a family struggling with poverty, featuring Beau and Jeff Bridges. His film Prom (2010) explores the complex lives of teenagers as they transition from childhood to adulthood, and is a companion piece to his wife Mary Ellen Mark’s photographic project of the same name. Bell recently completed six short films about pediatric healthcare for Novartis, shot in Los Angeles, Ukraine, India, and China. An ongoing film project, A New York Story, aims to capture the energy and resilient spirit of New York City since September 11, 2001.
Special thanks to Chuck Kelton for making the exhibition prints, and to ILFORD for graciously donating the ILFORD MULTIGRADE FB CLASSIC Gloss paper.
Aperture’s exhibitions are funded in part by an award from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Charina Endowment Fund.