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Tiny in her Halloween costume, Seattle

Mary Ellen Mark

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvannia, 1940 - 2015, New York, New York)

1983 (printed 2004)

Selenium toned gelatin silver print

22 7/16 in. x 15 3/16 in. (56.99 cm x 38.58 cm)

Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media

2004.18

More Information

In 1983, Mary Ellen Mark was sent by LIFE magazine to photograph street kids in Seattle. There, she met thirteen-year-old prostitute Erin “Tiny” Blackwell. Tiny became one of the central subjects not only of Mark’s photographs, but also of the documentary film Streetwise which followed in 1984. Mark has unflinchingly documented Tiny’s life for nearly three decades, illustrating her struggles with poverty, substance abuse, and abusive partners and family, but also capturing moments of joy and intimacy. “We don’t mean to scare you. We’re just telling you the truth. You get beat up and some of these girls end up getting’ killed.” –Tiny (from the transcript of the 1984 documentary film Streetwise, by Martin Bell) Of the kids documented in Streetwise, Tiny is one of the few to have lived to adulthood and beyond. One was stabbed at an arcade on Pike Street and 1st. Another died of AIDS. Yet another hanged himself, just days before his seventeenth birthday. Roberta Hayes was murdered by Washington’s infamous Green River Killer. Tiny has stated that she is “surprised” to have survived.

Keywords
American
Black and White
Contemporary Art
Costume
Dress
Gelatin Silver
Halloween
Photography
Portrait
Poverty
Sexuality
Social Class
Woman