Tuesday, April 21

The Learning Tree (1969) 

Written and directed by photographer Gordon Parks, the film portrays Newt Winger’s journey into manhood during the 1920s in Kansas. It is a semi-autobiographical retelling of Parks’ youthful experiences.  With themes of love, sex, death, justice and injustice, The Learning Tree visualizes the varied experiences of becoming an adult. 

Available to stream on Itunes, Google Play, Vudu, and Amazon Prime for a small fee.

The Midwest setting of the film recalls Harold Gregor’s Illinois Barn Series #14 (1971). Both Gregor and Parks capture the character of the Midwest landscape that can be beautiful and punishing.

Give us your thoughts on the film and any connections you made to the VBMA collections on social media. #VBMA #VBMAFlickPick #MuseumAtHome #ArtCanHelp #WhyILoveMuseums #MuseSocial #ArtFromHome #VBMAextras

In addition to the streaming options on the above mentioned platforms, The Learning Tree will be available for loan from the dvd film library at the VBMA when the museum reopens. Become a member of the Film Society to check out films.


VBMA Film Studies Coordinator, Diane Thelen

Image caption: Harold Gregor. Illinois Barn Series, #14. 1971. Oil on canvas