Seven rare Gordon Parks prints have recently been donated to the Kansas African American Museum.
The benefactor was the Jo Zakas Legacy Foundation, according to Mark McCormick, director of the museum. Zakas, Clifton Square founder and entrepreneur, died in August after surgery to remove an aneurysm from her aorta. She was 75.
“Zakas firmly believed that art feeds the soul so she funded and promoted her foundation to create resources to help “at risk” children,” a press released issued Monday read.
A press conference is scheduled at 10 a.m. Friday at the Museum, 601 N. Water.
Zakas, a lifetime resident of Wichita, was an entrepreneur, traveler, artist and philanthropist. She was good friends with Marcia McCoy who owns the largest body of Parks’ last photographic works of art.
Fort Scott native Gordon Parks was born in 1912 and died in 2006. When he was a boy, he and his family were forced to live in an all-black neighborhood, and he attended an all-black school.
The memories gave him a hatred of Kansas that he struggled with almost all his life. Parks grew up to be one of the nation's most prolific and famous photographers. He was also a filmmaker, author and composer.
Zakas met Parks at his New York City home as an invited dinner guest by Parks and McCoy.
According to McCormick, Zakas and McCoy had talked before Zakas’ death and expressed wished to promote the Kansas African American Museum.
“The decision to donate the works had two goals: 1. Honor and preserve the legacy of Gordon Parks, particularly his artistic endeavors; and 2. Through tangible action, support (the museum’s) educational legacy,” the press release said.
The seven Gordon Parks print will be available to view at the museum during the press conference on Friday.
Marcia McCoy will also be available at the conference to answer questions regarding the Jo Zakas art collection and the legacy of Gordon Parks art.
Fort Scott native Gordon Parks was born in 1912 and died in 2006.