(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1940 - 2015, New York, New York)
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
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. In 1991, Tiny lost custody of her three children, Daylon, La Shawndrea, and Keanna Rose, to the state of Washington during a period of drug and alcohol abuse. The events of this period were documented in the short film Erin, by Martin Bell, a follow-up to 1984's Streetwise. The film also documents Tiny’s continued tumultuous relationship with her mother.