CHURCH AND STATE
Exhibition: January 17 - March 15
Reception: January 24 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm
Sherry Frumkin Gallery is pleased to present Church and State, an exhibition of photographs by Santa Monica-based artist Jona Frank that examines the lives of students at evangelical Patrick Henry College in Virginia. The works in Church and State are selected from Frank’s new book RIGHT: Portraits from the Evangelical Ivy League (Chronicle Books, October 2008). RIGHT has been chosen as one of the Best Photo Books for 2008 by American Photo Magazine.
Church and State and RIGHT are the first extended photographic narrative explorations of evangelical youth in America. The 28 color photographs in TITLE are limited edition Fuji Crystal Archive prints sized 16” x 20” and 30” x 40”. This is the first Southern California gallery exhibition of Frank’s images from RIGHT. The opening reception is on Saturday, January 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. The evening will include a walk through by the artist, who will also sign copies of RIGHT.
Using a 4 x 5 camera, Frank spent two years photographing young people at Patrick Henry College (PHC). The school was founded in 2000 to provide an educational pathway for homeschoolers to become national evangelical cultural, social, and political leaders. PHC is often referred to by the students who go there as "Harvard for Homeschoolers." Frank’s intimate photographic portraiture provides a remarkable window into a unique and intense evangelical world filled with preternaturally serious young people who take the college’s mission to change the nation and shape the culture as a personal calling.
The college dress code instructs students to honor God through their appearance. Accordingly, the young people in Frank’s photos wear business suits during and even after class hours, as well as at their internships for the White House, legislators, think tanks, government agencies, and lobbyists. Highly anticipated yearly events like the spring Liberty Ball see the young people adopting attire that harkens back to the era of the Founding Fathers. In the panoramically displayed photographs of two of the students at home, everyone is in casual attire, although their expressions still convey a sense of reserve and formality. The members of Generation Joshua, as the founder of PHC likes to call this first wave of Christian homeschoolers, wear their mantle of responsibility wherever they go.
Frank’s body of work for the past decade reflects a focus on the development and role-playing of young people, what she terms in her essay in RIGHT "states of becoming." The photographs of PHC students and their families continue this path of exploration. Frank’s political and social views are very different from her subjects. In this classic outsider looking in experience, however, the artist intentionally does not project her views into images but allows viewers to draw their own conclusions.