The process of creating The Discerning Eye began in the first semester by exploring the life of Gordon Parks, his work and his legacy. Students read his autobiography Voices in the Mirror, his award-winning book The Learning Tree and articles from LIFE Magazine. They also listened to a number of interviews he conducted in his later years, gained an understanding of the art of photography and the voice of a camera. The class visited the Gordon Parks Archive housed on the campus of SUNY Purchase in Purchase, NY and learned about the process of archiving prints, building a foundation, and were explained the steps taken to preserve an artist’s legacy. Students learned the craft of designing an exhibit, selecting the art to be shown, writing didactics, doing the necessary research and becoming the exhibit’s docents. Claire Yaffa, a friend of Gordon Parks and fellow photographer spoke with the class and master printer Jim Megargee explained the importance of the prints loaned to Millbrook. The photographs in this exhibit were all printed by Megargee who worked closely with Parks. These are the master set, used to make sure all further prints met the artist's standards - they are known as Parks' reference prints.
This year's Art History class at Millbrook School was made possible by The Gordon Parks Foundation, a Division of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation. The Foundation’s Director, Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. is a Millbrook graduate who worked closely with Bill Hardy to make this project happen.