Focal Points at Photoville 2018

Premiering in San Francisco this past May to notable critical success, Focal Points travels to Photoville for its East Coast debut and will be on view from September 13–23, 2018. The exhibition is produced and curated by CatchLight in partnership with United Photo Industries with printing support and services provided by  Digital Silver Imaging.

CatchLight is a San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit that annually recognizes three exceptional national photographers who bring awareness to challenging social issues. Focal Points features work from the 2017 CatchLight fellows, Tomas Van Houtryve, Sarah Blesener, and Brian L. Frank who were each paired with a media partner—the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and the Marshall Project, respectively. The exhibition showcases the projects that were made possible through their fellowships where each photographer was awarded a $30,000 grant. The themes include photography’s influence on the perception and teaching of the American West’s history, the trend of military-style training amongst youth, and life inside a youth conservation prison in California. An accompanying exhibition book featuring work and perspectives regarding each fellow’s project will be available for purchase.

On Saturday, September 15th from 3-4pm hear from CatchLight’s founder, Nancy Richards Farese, and fellows about the organization’s unique focus on solving the giant mismatch between artists and their potential for social impact by surrounding longform storytelling with resources, networks and leadership to bring to life and amplify the reach of their stories. This public presentation will focus on the experiences of CatchLight’s inaugural fellows, and an open discussion of our approach to promoting social change through the arts.
On Thursday, September 20th, CatchLight will participate in Photoville’s Education Day, produced by United Photo Industries, which is a program designed to give local middle school and high school students an inside look into Photoville and the power of Visual Storytelling. dates for this event and additional programming will be announced in the weeks to come.


Tomas Van Houtryve


Tomas Van Houtryve is a conceptual artist, writer, and photographer based in Paris. His project Lines and Lineage imagines what the history of the Mexican-American border might have looked like at the time of the area's Mexican Administration. It questions the role that photographs—both present and missing—have played in shaping the identity of the West.


Sarah Blesener


Sarah Blesener is a documentary photographer based in New York City. Her ongoing work examines the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in the teaching of “New Americanism” amongst youth. Photographed across twelve states, Beckon Us From Home, peers into patriot camps and clubs around the United States where roughly 400,000 children are taught annually, often with military subtext, what it means to be an American. The series captures the emotion and vulnerability of youth in today’s political climate.

Brian L. Frank


Brian L. Frank, a San Francisco native, has worked on social documentary projects across the Americas that focus on cultural identity, social inequality, violence, workers’ rights, and the environment. Using the Pine Grove Youth Conservation Camp as a departure point, Frank’s new project Out of Bounds: Coming of Age in "Gang Territory" explores the bonds of brotherhood that the young men share, but also the loneliness they feel, knowing that the odds are stacked against them, waiting just on the other side of the trees which form their prison walls.