Mary Ellen Mark

Mary Ellen Mark: The Lives of Women


Curated by Anne Morin

in collaboration with diChroma photohraphy


The exhbition is open until June 5th


From the moment she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication in 1964 with a degree in photojournalism up until her recent death just over fifty years later, Mary Ellen Mark worked as a documentary photographer making intensely vivid, ground-breaking photo essays, exploring the realities of people in a variety of complex, often difficult situations. A large majority of these people were women.


Mark’s work predates today’s focus on the abuse and suffering of women as highlighted by the #MeToo movement and others, with numerous projects extensively exploring the lives of women in difficult, painful, at times near-impossible situations. In the 1970s, Mark made a series of intimate black-and-white photographs of female patients in distress on Ward 81, the only locked ward for women in the Oregon State Hospital, publishing a book of the same name. In 1981 she published another volume, Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay, a pioneering work in colour on the lives of sex workers in Mumbai’s low-rent red light district. A few years later, her work on Mother Teresa’s Mission of Charity in Calcutta came out as a book, illuminating the strength and commitment of this icon of generosity. Her work on Erin Blackwell, aka ‘Tiny’, a young runaway girl whom she met in 1983, and on Tiny’s community of friends living on the street, became the subject of an Academy Award-nominated film, Streetwise, as well as a second film, Tiny, and two books, tracing over three decades this young woman’s battle with poverty and drug addiction, as well as her role as a mother to ten of her own children.

A passionate witness, her life’s work was to use photography and film to delve deep into the lives of others as a way of embracing their humanity and sharing it with a wider audience, providing her subjects with a significant, often powerful voice.


Mary Ellen Mark: The Lives of Women will explore the work Mark did over the last half of a century, documenting a great variety of women in diverse situations. The exhibition consists of 90 photographs and will include the film Prom, Twins e The Amazing Plastic Lady. 

Mary Ellen Mark (20th march 1940, Pennsylvania, USA – 25th of may 2015 New York, USA) achieved worldwide visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. She published photo-essays and portraits in such publications as LIFE, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair. For over five decades, she traveled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. She is recognized as one of our most respected and influential photographers. Her images of our world’s diverse cultures have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. Her portrayals of Mother Teresa, Indian circuses, and brothels in Bombay were the product of many years of work in India. A 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.

Mary Ellen received the 2014 Lifetime Achievement in Photography Award from the George Eastman House as well as the Outstanding Contribution Photography Award from the World Photography Organisation. She has also received the Infinity Award for Journalism, an Erna & Victor Hasselblad Foundation Grant, and a Walter Annenberg Grant for her book and exhibition project on AMERICA. Among her other awards are the Cornell Capa Award from the International Center of Photography, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, the Matrix Award for outstanding woman in the field of film/photography, and the Dr. Erich Salomon Award for outstanding merits in the field of journalistic photography. She was also presented with honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from her Alma Mater, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of the Arts; three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts; the Photographer of the Year Award from the Friends of Photography; the World Press Award for Outstanding Body of Work Throughout the Years; the Victor Hasselblad Cover Award; two Robert F. Kennedy Awards; and the Creative Arts Award Citation for Photography at Brandeis University..

Her last book “Tiny: Streetwise Revisited” is a culmination of 32 years documenting Erin Blackwell, who she first met in 1983 on assignment for LIFE magazine. Erin was the subject of both the book and film “Streetwise.” Martin also made an updated film, “TINY: The Life of Erin Blackwell.”

Aside from her book and magazine work, Mark photographed advertising campaigns among which are Barnes and Noble, British Levis, Coach Bags, Eileen Fisher, Hasselblad, Heineken, Keds, Mass Mutual, Nissan, and Patek Philippe.


H 12

Chiostri di San Pietro | Laboratorio Aperto



with Tessa Demichel


01/05 SUNDAY

H 10.30

Guided tour of the exhibitions in Chiostri di San Pietro for children from 6 to 12 years old

Free. By reservation:


08/05 SUNDAY

H 16

Guided tour of exhibitions in Chiostri di San Pietro

Cost: € 3 guided tour + entrance ticket

By reservation:



Chiostri di San Pietro
Via Emilia San Pietro 44/c
Reggio Emilia



opening days
29th of April › 19-23
30th of April › 10-23
1st of May › 10-20

from 6th of May to 5th of June
Friday, Saturday, Sunday and public holidays › 10-20

Chiostri di San Pietro