While it may seem like an unusual pairing, artist Frederick Franck has managed to bridge the gap between dentistry and divinity. Once an oral surgeon in the jungles of Gabon, Franck now has his artwork appearing at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.
Much of Franck’s work, which spans more than half a century, will be on display at “Frederick Franck: Drawings, Paintings, and Icons.” The exhibit, located in the Institute’s Great Hall on Prospect Street, runs through Oct. 22. A public reception featuring Franck himself is scheduled for Thursday.
Melissa Maier, the Institute’s manager of external relations and publications, said students and community members of all backgrounds and interests would enjoy the exhibition.
“It’s art that spans more than half a century in a variety of media,” Maier said. “It’s not often you can see that kind of breadth of expression in one place. Whether or not [one’s] artistic taste is well-developed, there is something here that speaks to the human condition.”
Divinity School Dean Harry Attridge said in an e-mail message that the exhibit tied in with the goals of the Divinity School.
“It is important for the Divinity School, and its theologians to be in dialogue with the variety of ways in which human beings have tried to make sense of life, in word, image and music,” Attridge said. “The Divinity School has co-sponsored a number of exhibits with the Institute of Sacred Music and will continue to do so, precisely as a way of fostering that kind of important dialogue.”
In an artist’s statement, Franck discussed the works now on display.
“The paintings may speak to some, for they are not trying to please or flatter or be regarded as wall decorations. They do not try to entertain, neither to charm. They ask to be focused on for a while, perhaps to share some depth of the contemplation that is at their origin.”
John Cook, professor emeritus of religion and the arts at the Institute and Yale Divinity School, will introduce Franck — who is better known for his art than for his jungle exploits — at the reception Thursday.
Besides his dozens of solo exhibitions spanning the middle of the 20th century, Franck is also known for his drawings of the Second Vatican Council and of Pope John XXIII on his bier.
Maier said she was pleased that the Institute was able to bring Franck and his work to New Haven.
“Our mission has to do with bringing a wide variety of artistic achievements in the spiritual realm to the community,” Maier said. “We’ve done this in the past with artists from all over the world who give us different viewpoints on the spiritual experience. [Franck] is a very iconic figure.”