Exploring His Kodachrome Dreams:CFA’s Stephen A. Frank talks about his new show at Sherman Gallery
Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, in the 1950s, Stephen A. Frank dreamed of hitching rides on the Pennsylvania Railroad trains that thundered past his kitchen window, bound either for Philadelphia and New York or for St. Louis. He imagined himself transported to the national parks and monuments whose photos he had seen in magazines.
“National Geographic, Life, Look, and The Saturday Evening Post were my windows to the world,” recalls Frank, a College of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts master lecturer. But Frank’s parents, owners of a liquor–gourmet food store, had neither the time nor the means to travel. “I grew up with what I call the Jewish work ethic, the retail work ethic,” he says. “There was no time for vacations. There was only time for work.” The closest Frank got to realizing his wanderlust were occasional trips with his family to nearby Vandalia Airport, where they’d watch TWA propeller planes take off. “I longed to be one of the silhouetted figures in those tiny windows going to places I could only dream of, but longed to see,” he says.
After graduating with a degree in photography from Ohio University in the late ’60s, Frank moved East to study at the Rhode Island School of Design, where he earned a master’s degree. He then moved to Boston and began teaching at BU in 1974. But he says he never had the time—or the money—to see the sites he had dreamed of as a boy. “I was always so jealous of everyone who had traveled,” he says. “Any place you had been and I hadn’t, I was jealous of you being there.”
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