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Photography opens doors to the community with FRANK

Photo of Barbara Tyroler's work on display at the FRANK Gallery.

Photography at the FRANK Community Gallery will celebrate the Chapel Hill community with work from professional photographers, as well as their students, from Oct. 5 through Oct. 20.

The FRANK Gallery, formally known as The Franklin Street Arts Collective, began as part of the Click! Photography Festival. It was originally located on Franklin Street, but now has two galleries in University Place. The main gallery attracts visitors as young as 9 years old, like aspiring artist Rosalie Spivey.

“I came here because I really like art and I like to be inspired by art,” Spivey said. 

The community gallery, located on the opposite end of the mall near Southern Seasons, will feature an upcoming exhibition, titled “FRANK: inFocus 2019: The Art Gallery as Classroom." 

“FRANK: inFocus has evolved into this education component of the FRANK Gallery,” said Barbara Tyroler, a FRANK artist and education outreach coordinator. “It’s an exhibit showcasing the work of different photographers and their students.”

Photography from classes taught at UNC, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and even nonprofit organizations, like GiGi’s Playhouse, will be featured.

“I consider it sort of a re-gift,” Tyroler said, referring to the relationship between her and her students. “They are re-gifting to me the opportunity to gain their trust and have them produce work that’s inspiring. That’s meaningful as an educator.”

Tyroler said that seeing her students grow as they go through the process of getting their work printed and put on exhibit with their artist statements is very fulfilling.

“A lot of them are going ‘Oh no, I can’t do this! I’m not ready for it,' and then all of the sudden, they’re ready for it. There it is,” Tyroler said.

Gesche Würfel is a professional photographer and professor at UNC. Students from her advanced darkroom photography class will be developing their photos on fiber paper.

“I am always excited if my students have an opportunity to show their work to the public,” Würfel said. 

She said the FRANK Community Gallery gives her students the opportunity to reach a broader audience than a campus gallery would.

“I think the photographs are a big part of the community and represent Chapel Hill as a whole,” said Sophie Payne, a UNC sophomore majoring in English and one of Würfel’s students. Like Payne, several of her classmates are not art majors.

“The coolest part about student artwork is that it’s incredibly professional and beautiful, but they’re pulling in other pieces from their outside lives,” Payne said.

Members of GiGi’s Playhouse, a nonprofit organization for adults with Down syndrome, will also have their photography on exhibit.

“They have this mission about empowering people with Down syndrome to be active participants in their community,” Tyroler said. Along with photos taken by the participants from GiGi’s, studio portraits and candid photos documenting the whole process, taken by Tyroler’s Duke students, will also be on display.

“It’s not as much about the photography as it is about how photography opens doors and opens opportunities to share ideas with the community,” Tyroler said.

In addition to the exhibition, FRANK: inFocus will also host several photography workshops as a continuation of its educational series.

“We like to be an approachable place for people to learn about art,” said Natalie Knox, manager of the FRANK Gallery. “If you are an avid collector, or if you’re just interested in learning about the local art scene, or if you know nothing at all about art, we like to be a place where our doors are always open, and people can come and ask questions.”

The exhibit will have an opening reception with live music and food on Oct. 5. A guided tour with presentations by the student photographers will take place at the exhibition’s closing on Oct. 20, where attendees will be able to talk to the photographers about their work.

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