From the series "Strteetwise"
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1940 - 2015, New York, New York)
1983 (printed 2004)
Selenium toned gelatin silver print
8 3/4 x 12 15/16 in. (22.4 x 32.8 cm)
Collection of the Akron Art Museum
Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media
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. “I wanna be really rich… and live on a farm with a bunch of horses, which is my main best animal… and have three yachts or more… and diamonds and jewels and all that stuff.” –Tiny (from the transcript of the 1984 documentary film Streetwise, by Martin Bell) While she may not have yet achieved the level of wealth that she dreamt of as a teenager, life has undoubtedly improved for Erin “Tiny” Blackwell since the days documented in Streetwise. In 2006, she moved with her husband and six of her children out of a cramped, South End apartment, and into a house with a yard.