American Gothic by Gordon Parks (1942)

The photograph “American Gothic” by Gordon Parks, taken in 1942, is a powerful and evocative image. The black-and-white photograph captures an African American woman standing before an American flag, holding a broom in one hand and a mop in the other. She is wearing a polka-dot dress with a button-up collar, and her expression is serious, composed, and conveys a sense of dignity despite the menial instruments she is holding, which suggest her likely role as a janitor or domestic worker.

Parks’ photograph is a poignant commentary on the American social and racial landscape of the time, using visual symbolism to critique the inequalities and challenges faced by African Americans. The backdrop of the American flag juxtaposes the ideal of the American dream against the reality of the subject’s social position, highlighting the irony and tension between national identity and the lived experiences of marginalized groups within the United States.

Other Photographs from Gordon Parks

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