An award-winning photographer, Frank Barnett was born in Chicago in 1939 to Jewish parents from very different backgrounds. His father was a first generation American with ties to an Eastern European Orthodox heritage. His mother, an only child of wealth and privilege, traced her ancestry to 18th century Dutch Jews whose portraits hung in the living room of Frank’s childhood home.
With undergraduate and graduate degrees in Cultural Anthropology from the University of California, Frank’s approach to his photography has been informed by his ethnicity, educational background, and the era into which he was born.
Frank has a long-standing interest in the devastating role that European colonization has played in the broken treaties and the broken spirits of indigenous peoples globally. He considers himself fortunate to have been educated as an Anthropologist, and to have worked with the indigenous peoples of New Mexico where he created an Addy award-winning catalog and national advertising campaign for the Museum of New Mexico Foundation’s four museums including its Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.
Three of Frank’s black and white images were recognized by the Monochrome Awards in the categories of Fine Art, Photojournalism, and Photomanipulation in 2014. In the spring of 2015, his photographs were exhibited at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, an exhibit accompanied by FotoMacher – Examining Lives with Jewish Eyes, a 240-page coffee table book.
Paul Haist, longtime editor of the Jewish Review, wrote, “…like Avedon, Barnett sought access to unusual and edgy, outsider subjects including the Angola Prison Rodeo performers at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, nursing home patients, and his late wife during her two-year losing battle with cancer.In the faces captured by Barnett in a maximum security prison, a nursing home, and a hospice, we see our own selves as much as anything in the faces of prisoners and the dying, those who have been dealt life sentences. While Barnett believes he stays on the outside, he has the ability to penetrate the world of those whom he photographs, to see them with the clarity of a stranger.”