Mary Ellen Mark

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

Tiny hitting bad times with a friend, Seattle

From the series "Homeless Teenagers"

1989 (printed 2004)

Selenium toned gelatin silver print

8 11/16 x 12 15/16 in. (22.1 x 32.8 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Knight Purchase Fund for Photographic Media


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. Here, we find nineteen-year-old Tiny, already a mother of two, still on the streets. Tiny has abused various drugs over the years. Her preferred drug was crack, though she has also used heroin intermittently since age thirteen. She admits to having used drugs and alcohol even while pregnant. She blames her drug and alcohol use during her pregnancy with Rayshon for his speech and behavioral problems.

Contemporary Art
Black and White
Social Class