Since 1982, the photographer Judith Joy Ross (born 1946 in Hazleton, Pennsylvania) has produced sensitive, authentic portraits of people at the heart of society: school children, and teachers, adolescents, protestors , soldiers, visitors to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, D.C. and members of the U.S. Congress . Her portraits which are primarily contextualized in series, offer an aesthetic as well a psychologically empathic approach to photography. Ross’s elaborate, traditional way of working with a large format 8×10 camera and tripod gives her time to engage with the person she is about to photograph. So the act of photographing itself becomes an intense encounter between photographer and subject, an expression of attention for and appreciation of the person depicted. Thanks to the shallow depth of field, the photographs lift the people from the background, balancing visual intimacy and respectful distance.
Ross uses the documentary style whose immediacy and transparency convey a regard for reality and the medium and which gives room to an awareness of civic responsibility and a keen interest in peoples emotional states.
Ross has been awarded grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1985), a City of Easton/Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grant (1988), the Charles Pratt Memorial Award (1992), and the Andrea Frank Foundation Award (1998).
Monographs and exhibition catalogs of her work have been published internationally. Her photographs are included in numerous institutional collections including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, New York (where she was selected by John Szarkowski to be in the first exhibition in the influential New Photography series), San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Addison Gallery of American Art, Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Museum Ludwig, Cologne,Foundation A Stichting, Brussels, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Die Photographische Sammlung, Cologne, The Pilara Foundation Collection, San Francisco, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, among others.
In 2011, Die Photographische Sammlung in Cologne organized a retrospective exhibition of Ross’s work which traveled to the Kunstmuseum Kloster in Madeburg and the Foundation A Stichting, Brussels.
Judith Joy Ross, Contemporaries/A Photographic Series, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, essay by Susan Kismaric, 1995
Judith Joy Ross, Portraits, Hannover, Sprengel Museum, essay by Thomas Weski, 1996
Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools, New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, essay by Jock Reynolds, 2006
Protest the War, Gottingen, Steidl, essay by Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, 2007
Living with War, Portraits, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Gulf War, Protest the War, Gottingen, Steidl, edited and with an essay by Heinz Liesbrock, 2008
Judith Joy Ross, Photographs Since 1982, Cologne, Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur im Mediapark, essays by Gabriele Conrath-Scholl and Claudia Schubert, 2011