Mary Ellen Mark

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

Tiny and Stacey, Seattle

From the series "American Heart"

1991 (printed 2004)

Selenium toned gelatin silver print

10 1/4 x 10 1/8 in. (26.2 x 25.7 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. This is a still from the 1992 film American Heart, directed by Martin Bell, and written by Bell with Mary Ellen Mark and Peter Silverman. The film, starring Jeff Bridges, is based on the real-life relationship of two of the subjects in Bell’s Streetwise documentary, Dewayne Pomeroy, and his father, Leroy. In this photo, Tracey Kapisky, an actress who plays a teenage prostitute in the film, stands side-by-side with Tiny, on whom the character is loosely based.

Black and White
Social Class
Contemporary Art