‘Barack Obama: The Freshman’ at M + B in West Hollywood


300_jack-032-exhibition2-1By Emily Waldorf

Amateur photographer turned psychology professor and therapist, Lisa Jack, took beautiful, edgy images of President Obama when he was just a college freshman at Occidental in 1980.  Ms. Jack’s rare photographs will be shown for the first time ever at West Hollywood gallery M +  B, in an exhibit called “Barack Obama:  The Freshman,” on view from May 28 – July 18.

According to M + B, Ms. Jack was initially concerned that the images of self-consciously cool, smoking “Barry” might be incriminating, until coming to the conclusion that they show the metamorphosis of a great man:

As described in his memoir Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama’s time at “Oxy” (Occidental College) was one of confusion and self-searching.  He was chided by his mother for being friends with someone who was arrested on a drug possession charge, having so-so grades and, worst of all, being undeclared… These images from 1980 offer a view of that young man grappling with issues that would shape him to become the 44th President of the United States…These photographs evidence the shift from what he described as “going through the motions” to finding a sense of self and, subsequently, purpose.”

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