Moderator: Sally Katz
In collaboration with CatchLight and SF Camerawork


We often forget that the boundary between the United States and Mexico was not always where it is today. It used to be 700 miles farther north, following what is now the state line between Oregon and California and running east to Wyoming before zigzagging southeast to Louisiana. Originally home to the indigenous peoples of the region, much of this land was Spanish and then Mexican territory for centuries before becoming what we now think of as the American West.
‘Lines and Lineage’ is a new powerful body of work by award-winning photographer Tomas van Houtryve that explores the reality of the US and Mexico border before 1848 when the United States seized half of Mexico’s land and created the border that we know today.

Using glass plates and a nineteenth-century camera, van Houtryve has masterfully photographed landscapes along the original border and has created portraits of descendants of early inhabitants, imagining what that history might have looked like if photography had arrived in California before it was annexed by the United States.

`Lines and Lineage` was created in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting thanks to a CatchLight Fellowship. CatchLight is a San Francisco Bay Area-based non-profit that accelerates the social impact of visual storytelling, identifying the best of a new breed of storyteller, and surrounding them with resources, networks, and leadership support to amplify the reach of their stories.

Images from `Lines and Lineage` will be presented at `Focal Points`, CatchLight’s inaugural exhibition hosted at SF Camerawork in San Francisco on May 3, 2018.
The exhibit explores the power of visual storytelling to drive social change and features work from 2017 CatchLight Fellows along with local artists from the Everyday Bay Area collective.


Self Portrait by Tomas van HoutryveTomas van Houtryve is a San Francisco-born conceptual artist and photographer whose major works interweave investigative journalism, philosophy and metaphor. Van Houtryve makes images using a wide range of processes, from 19th century wet plate collodion to thermal imaging and Augmented Reality. His projects challenge our notions of identity, memory and power, often by highlighting the slippage of wartime structures into everyday life.

Van Houtryve’s works are widely exhibited and collected, including by the International Center of Photography Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, MoCP Chicago and other collections.

In 2014, van Houtryve’s Blue Sky Days series was published in Harper’s as the largest photo portfolio in the magazine’s 164-year history. James Estrin of the New York Times stated that “Blue Sky Days is one of the most important photo essays done in the last few years. It tackles issues that are very difficult to photograph but central to modern existence—privacy, government intrusion and modern antiseptic warfare.”

A selection of van Houtryve’s formal honors include the CatchLight / Pulitzer Fellowship (2017), ICP Infinity Award (2015), World Press Photo, Second Prize (2015), Aaron Siskind Fellowship (2014), POY Photographer of the Year (2010), Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents (2006) and numerous others. He is a member of VII Agency since 2010.


Sally Katz by Tomas Van HoutryveSally Martin Katz is a Curatorial Assistant of Photography at SFMOMA. Before moving to the Bay Area, she lived in Paris, where she completed a Master of Arts degree in Art History, focusing on History of Photography, as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography, both from the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.

While living in Paris, she served as assistant to the director and the head of exhibitions/communications at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson and worked on the photographic archive of the Greek, Roman & Etruscan Antiquities Department at the Musée du Louvre. She has held internships at the International Center of Photography Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and MoMA. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and French Literature from Brown University.


May 4, 2018

Mitchell Park Community Center
El Palo Alto Room
3700 Middlefield Road
Palo Alto, CA