If you frequent FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, you’ve probably seen Barbara Tyroler running around, moving things around the gallery, helping with opening receptions, or working behind the desk. She’s there so much in fact, that you may mistake her for an employee. However, she is simply part of a passionate group of volunteers who, together with FRANK’s lone, star employee Torey, manage a beautiful gallery and an impressive number of community outreach programs.
This has been Barbara’s life, combining her photography talent with activism for the benefit of her community. Growing up in Chapel Hill, she moved to Washington, DC, where she served as a faculty member in the Art Department of the University of Maryland and gained a reputation as one of the best wedding photographers in the region. She returned to Chapel Hill where she held positions with UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, teaching photography. Along the way, she became involved with FRANK, helping grow outreach programs and helping to start what is the now the Triangle-wide CLICK Photography Festival.
One of Barbara’s most treasured projects combines her two Masters Degrees in Education and Digital Art. Rockin the Spectrum is a series of portraits autistic children learning to swim through the Homestead Pool Adapted Recreation Program. The photos perfectly and artistically capture the moment when the children, most of whom are hyper-sensitive to external stimuli, realize the soothing calmness of the water and learn to find joy in its comfort. The project earned her an NC State Arts and Humanities Award and resulted in a permanent installation at Homestead Aquatic Center in Chapel Hill. Barbara plans to continue the project into 2017, showcasing the photos and hosting additional outreach events through FRANK.
Barbara’s work can be found in hotels, hospitals and private collections throughout the country. Locally, you can find her work at FRANK. To learn more about Barbara, her work and her other outreach projects, check out her website, or just stop by FRANK – she’ll most likely be there.