Mary Ellen Mark

Rubella’s Lasting Impact on Adult Lives

  • Damali shopping at BJ’s, a grocery store in Westbury New York.

  • Damali having breakfast at her group home in Port Washington, New York.

  • Jimmy posing with his umbrella in Wantaugh, New York.

  • Damali’s friend Tiesha does Damali’s hair.

  • Damali at her group home in Port Washington, New York.

  • Damali with her grandmother Mona in Port Washington, New York.

About The Art

Photographer Mary Ellen Mark captures how congenital rubella syndrome changes lives. During the 1960s and early 1970s, rubella outbreaks in New York had a huge impact on hundreds of pregnant women. Jimmie Carey and Damali Ashman, the subjects of these portraits, are two of the people who were born with congenital rubella syndrome, or CRS. Today, they live in a group home in the New York City area. Mary Ellen’s photographs show their challenges, their independence, and the loving, lifelong care provided by family. CRS can cause blindness, deafness and heart problems. It can be completely prevented with rubella vaccine, which is widely available in wealthy countries, and used increasingly in poorer countries. About 100,000 children are still born with CRS every year.

Mary Ellen Mark
“I want these photographs to portray an intimate perspective of the significant and long-lasting consequences of congenital rubella syndrome.”

Considered one of the best documentary photographers in the world, American photographer Mary Ellen Mark has achieved global visibility through her numerous books, exhibitions and editorial magazine work. For over four decades, she has traveled extensively to make pictures that reflect a high degree of humanism. Her images have become landmarks in the field of documentary photography. Read more about Mary Ellen Mark.

Photo credit: Chae Kihn

Support the organizations helping to reach every child with life-saving vaccines.