The Photographic Journal

Heavy Elephants

Essay 152 • Jun 2nd 2017

When I was little, I always stood up for the pledge of allegiance. As I grew older, however, I began to question the history of the place I so blindly loved. I wondered about the troublesome past, but remained optimistic. I was ten when Barack Obama was first elected. My parents cried, they were so happy. My dad drove down to Chicago in our van that night with his friends in thick coats to see the new first family. Eight years and I grew older still, I learned more. My gilded vision of this country began to deteriorate but the Obamas spoke of hope and I believed them. Catalyzed by the most recent presidential election, my optimism halted and was replaced with shame and fear of the unknown. 

Now I, like many young people, feel a confusing menagerie of emotions towards the place we call home. It is a visceral time. There is inherent anxiety with the obligation of activism. There is stress with this huge and unwanted burden of a historically intolerant and underserved presidency.The repercussions of the next four years are stained into this country and into ourselves. The relationship that young progressive Americans have to the United States is heavier now- more complicated, an oxymoronic combination of resentment and gratefulness. There is now a omnipresent questioning of greatness. These photographs investigate the multi-faceted and confusing yet inevitable relationship that this young demographic- fifty-five percent of which voted for Hillary Clinton- has to the overall concept of America in the age of Trump. These images are surreal and saturated, dreamlike; Reflecting the months following the night of November 8th, 2016. They explore what it is to be a young American as the leader of the country unravels the last eight, twelve, forty years. 

The Star-Spangled Banner is red, white, and blue. We strangely loved these colors but despite everything, they have let us down. 


Frances Tyska is a nineteen-year-old artist and photographer. She has been obsessed with images and narration since she can remember. In her photographs, a specific attention to light and balance join together to create her distinct aesthetic voice. She is curious about exploring the personal emotions involved with individual’s sense of belonging through the lens of transitions in age, technology, and society.

Frances is currently studying at University of California- Los Angeles but will move to Manhattan in the fall to study Fine Arts at The Cooper Union. She is constantly amazed and fascinated with the world around her. Incessantly learning and creating art helps her make sense of it.mployment opportunities.

Instagram | Website

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Shot List

1. Day Off (They’re Never, They’re Purple), 2017
2. Love On 4th Of July, 2017
3. Chlorine, 2017
4. Eight Years, 2017
5. Three-Oh-Six (But Negative Three Million), 2017
6. We Never Asked For This, 2017
7. Elusive (You Promised), 2017
8. A Great America, 2017
9. Thoreau Elementary (Not Like The Old Days), 2017
10. Dancer (Ill-fitting)
11. California Isn’t The Midwest, 2017
12. Heavy Elephants, 2017
13. ’73 And Me, 2017
14. Breakfast (Empty Stomach), 2017
15. Popsicle, 2017
16. Protest Aftermath, 2017
17. Gilded, 2017