The Gordon Parks photographs that inspired Kendrick Lamar’s music video for ELEMENT are currently on display in New York.

Documenting the lives of black Americans, Parks photo essays explore issues related to poverty and social injustice. He was the first ever African American to produce and direct major motion pictures and developed films relating the experience of slaves and the struggles black Americans faced. “Gordon Parks’ work is continuing to have a great impact on young people – and particularly on artists like Kendrick who, use the power of imagery to examine issues related to social justice and race in our country,” said Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr., Executive Director of The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Screenshot of Kendrick’s video for Element

Kendrick is known for using powerful political imagery within his work, his video for his track ELEMENT is no exception. Parks’ 1963 photo Boy With JunebugUntitledEthel Sharrieff, as well as photos, form his 1948 “Harlem Gang Leader” series are all referenced. “Kendrick has helped to call attention to one of the most important artists of our time,” adds Peter.

Long-time friend and supporter of The Gordon Parks Foundation, Kasseem Dean noted, “I’m so inspired that my friend Kendrick Lamar chose the iconic imagery of the legendary Gordon Parks in his video for ELEMENT. It’s a prime example of how contemporary change makers – artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers – can borrow from the greats of the past who were also working towards social change.”

 ELEMENT is on until February 10 at the Gordon Parks Foundation, New York