Tiny in her Halloween costume, Seattle, Washington, 1983


The Lives of Women

From the moment she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication in 1964 with a degree in photojournalism until her recent death just over fifty years later, Mary Ellen Mark worked as a documentary photographer making intensely vivid, groundbreaking photo essays exploring the realities of people in a variety of complex, often difficult situations. A large majority of these people were women.

Mark’s work predates today’s focus on the abuse and suffering of women highlighted by the #MeToo movement and others, with numerous projects extensively exploring the lives of women in difficult, painful, at times nearly impossible situations. A passionate witness, her life’s work was to use photography and film to delve deeply into the lives of others as a way of embracing their humanity and sharing it with a larger audience, providing her subjects with a significant, often powerful voice.

In the 1970s Mark made a series of intimate black-and-white photographs of female patients in distress on Ward 81, the only locked ward for women in the Oregon State Hospital, publishing a book of the same name. In 1981 she published another volume, Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay, a pioneering work in color on the lives of sex workers in Mumbai’s low-rent red light district. A few years later her work on Mother Teresa’s Mission of Charity in Calcutta came out as a book, illuminating the strength and commitment of this icon of generosity. Her work on Erin Blackwell, aka “Tiny,” a young runaway girl whom she met in 1983, and on Tiny’s community of friends living on the street, became he subject of an Academy Award-nominated film, Streetwise, as well as a second film, Tiny, and two books, tracing over three decades this young woman’s battle with poverty and drug addiction, as well as her role as mother to ten of her own children.

Mark also photographed teenagers at their high school graduation proms, which also became a book and a film, Prom. For another project she photographed twins in Twinsburg Ohio, producing a book and film, Twins. Then she made photographs and another film on the members of a circus in India, Circus of Dreams. She also made an iconic and haunting image of a young Turkish girl who survived a massive earthquake in her country, as well as photographing a homeless family living in a car in California for Life magazine, raising enormous amounts of money from readers. And she made portraits of many very successful women, celebrities in their own right, among them Maya Angelou, Candice Bergen, Lillian Gish, Etta James, and Twinka.


> Contents93 photographs (B&W and color)
> Size of Works29 photographs 28x35,5 cm
55 photographs 40x50 cm
9 photographs 51x69 cm
> ConditionFramed and travelling in 5 wooden crates:
160x66x145 cm (LxWxH)
135x87x103 cm
142x84x101 cm
142x87x103 cm
146x71x79 cm
> TransportFrom Madrid
> Rental ConditionsThe borrower will be in charge of:
- The Transport from and to Madrid
- The insurance nail to nail
- Flight and Journey for the responsible of the show from Madrid
> AvailabilityFrom March 2021


© Violeta Cañigueral, 2021 © Violeta Cañigueral, 2021
© Violeta Cañigueral, 2021 © Violeta Cañigueral, 2021
© Violeta Cañigueral, 2021 © Violeta Cañigueral, 2021



  • Kulturhuset - Stockholm, Sweden
    December 4, 2020 - February 28, 2021

  • Fotocolectania - Barcelona, Spain
    March 18 - July 31, 2021

  • Fotofestival Lenzburg - Lenzburg, Switzerland
    September 3 - November 28, 2021

< back to exhibitions