CatchLight’s inaugural “Focal Points” exhibition 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.

Sarah Blesener’s project, “Beckon Us From Home,” captures the emotion and vulnerability of youth in today’s political climate. “Beckon Us From Home” examines the interplay of religion, love of country, and military-style training in the teaching of “New Americanism” among youth.

Brian L. Frank’s latest work, “Out of Bounds,” looks at targeted policing and criminalization of youth in minority communities and asks what kind of a society we have built where a prison camp becomes a boy’s only experience of summer camp.

Tomas Van Houtryve’s 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.

“Focal Points” invites viewers to recalibrate their understandings of what they think they know about the past, present and future of the United States.

Artist Bios

  • Sarah Blesener

    Sarah Blesener was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studied Linguistics and Youth Development at North Central University. While at university, she worked as a photographer for the organization Healing Haiti based in Port au Prince, Haiti, covering events surrounding the 2010 earthquake. Upon graduation in 2012, she studied at Bookvar Russian Academy in Minneapolis, concentrating on the Russian language. She is a recent graduate of the Visual Journalism and Documentary Practice program at the International Center of Photography in New York. Her latest work revolves around issues of youth culture and movements, focusing on Russia, Eastern Europe and the United States.

  • Brian L. Frank

    Brian L. Frank

    A San Francisco native, Brian L. Frank has worked on social documentary projects across the Americas focusing on cultural identity, social inequality, violence, workers rights, the environment and criminal justice.

    A lifetime Catchlight fellow and Pulitzer grantee, his work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, California Sunday Magazine, HarpersThe AtlanticGQEsquireFORTUNEMother JonesNewsweek, TIMELe Monde, Der SpiegelWiredPoliticoVirginia Quarterly ReviewPDNAmerican PhotoThe FaderThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, U.S.News & World Report, the San Francisco Chronicle and many other publications.

  • Tomas Van Houtryve

    After studying philosophy, Tomas developed a passion for photography while enrolled in an overseas university program in Nepal. After graduation in 1999, he moved to Latin America. In 2002, he was the first photographer to document the US military prison in Guantánamo Bay. Tomas returned to Nepal in 2004 to photograph the Maoist rebellion. The resulting photos earned the Visa pour l’Image-Perpignan Young Photographer Award and the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents. In 2010, Tomas was named the POY Photographer of the Year. Images from Blue Sky Days were first published in Harper’s in the largest photo portfolio in the magazine’s 164-year history. The series was awarded the 2015 ICP Infinity Award, World Press Photo and other honors. Tomas has been a member of the VII Photo collective since 2010.


  • CatchLight


    CatchLight is a San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit that believes art is vital and the highest form of hope. They serve as a transformational force, supporting artists and creating programs that accelerate the social impact of visual storytelling to improve the world by informing how we see and understand each other.

    In 2017, CatchLight launched its fellowship program, honoring three storytellers who demonstrated excellence in the use of photography and art as a catalyst to spark new conversations. Each fellow received an award of $30,000 and entered a partnership with an established media outlet to collaborate on a year-long project focused on driving social change.

Focal Points: 2017 Catchlight Fellows

 archive : 2018

Featuring: Sarah Blesener Brian L. Frank Tomas Van Houtryve

Curated by: Sam Barzilay

Presented by: CatchLight
  • CatchLight

Supported by:

  • United Photo Industries (UPI)


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