Mark, Mary Ellen

▪ American photojournalist
born March 20, 1940, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.

      American photojournalist whose compelling, empathetic images document the lives of marginalized people in the United States and other countries.

      Mark graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1962 with a bachelor's degree in painting and art history, and in 1964 she earned a master's degree in photojournalism from the same institution. In 1974 she published her first book, Passport, a selection of her photographs taken from 1963 to 1973.

      Mark began one of her best-known projects in 1976. For two months she lived in a high-security women's ward at the Oregon State Mental Institution in order to capture on film the moods and ongoing anxieties of mentally ill women confined to a locked ward. The resulting black-and-white images, published in Ward 81 (1979), illustrate Mark's attempts to record the human condition with both compassion and objectivity.

      Mark traveled repeatedly to India. On her first trip, in 1968, and then again in 1980 and 1981, she photographed Bombay's prostitutes and the work of Mother Teresa (Teresa, Blessed Mother) and her associates. Two books resulted, Falkland Road: Prostitutes of Bombay (1981) and Photographs of Mother Teresa's Missions of Charity in Calcutta, India (1985). In 1982 Mark completed an award-winning photo-essay for Life magazine documenting the lives of runaway children on the streets of Seattle, Washington. She later returned to Seattle to work on Streetwise (1984), a powerful documentary motion picture about Seattle's homeless children. She presented portraits of New York City's homeless people in the book A Cry for Help: Stories of Homelessness and Hope (1996). Her work has appeared in magazines such as Time, Ms., Paris-Match, and Der Stern.

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Universalium. 2010.

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