Zoe Strauss (born 1970) is an American photographer.
Strauss was born in 1970 in Philadelphia. Her father died when she was 5. She was the first member of her immediate family to graduate from high school. For her 30th birthday she was given a camera and started photographing in the city’s marginal neighborhoods. She is a photo-based installation artist who uses Philadelphia as a primary setting and subject for her work. Strauss typically photographs overlooked (or purposefully avoided) details with a humanist perspective and eye for composure.
In 1995, she started the Philadelphia Public Art Project, a one-woman organization whose mission is to give the citizens of Philadelphia access to art in their everyday lives. Strauss calls the Project an “epic narrative” of her own neighborhood. “When I started shooting, it was as if somewhere hidden in my head I had been waiting for this,” she has said.
Between 2001 and 2011, Strauss’s photographic work culminated in a yearly “Under I-95” show which took place beneath the Interstate in South Philadelphia. She displayed her photographs on concrete pillars under the highway and sold them for $5 each.
Strauss received a Seedling Award from the Leeway Foundation in 2002, a Pew Fellowship in 2005, and in 2006 her work was included in the Whitney Biennial; she also mounted a solo exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia. In 2007 Strauss was named a 2007 USA Gund Fellow and granted $50,000 by United States Artists.
Strauss frequently photographs near her grandparents' former home at 16th and Susquehanna. Her photographs include shuttered buildings, empty parking lots and vacant meeting halls in South Philadelphia. Strauss says her work is “a narrative about the beauty and difficulty of everyday life."
Her book America was published in 2008 by AMMO Books.
Grants and awards
- 2002 Leeway Emerging Artist grant.
- 2004 Arcadia University Works on Paper “Friends of Arcadia Award”, Arcadia University.
- 2005 Pew Fellowship in the Arts.[dead link]
- 2007 USA Gund Fellow, Visual Arts.
- 2007 $50000 grant from United States Artists.
- 2002-2009 Works-in-Progress exhibit, Southwark Community Center, last week of October annually, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2001-2010 Under 95 exhibit, Front St. and Mifflin St., the 1st weekend of May annually, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2006 Projected and Selected Images, Acuna-Hansen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
- 2006 Ramp Project, Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA.[dead link]
- 2007 I-95 Works in Progress, Etc. Galerie, Prague, Czech Republic.
- 2007 If You Reading This, Silverstein Photography, New York, NY.
- 2008 Zoe Strauss: Works in Progress, Peeler Art Center, Depauw University, Greencastle, IN.
- 2009 America: We Love Having You Here, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY.
- 2010 Photographs by Zoe Strauss, Under I-95, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2010 Zoe Strauss: Works for Columbus, OH, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH.
- 2012 Zoe Strauss: 10 Years, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2012 Zoe Strauss: I-95: A Slideshow, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY.
- 1997 Indianapolis Installation Festival, Whirlforce Medical Research Laboratories, Indianapolis, IN, Juried Exhibition, 3rd in show.
- 2002 Leeway Award winners group show, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2004 Big Nothing Cabaret, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2004 Works on Paper, Arcadia University, Glenside, PA.
- 2006 Whitney Biennial: Day for Night, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY.
- 2006 Summer Vacation: Photographs from the Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA.
- 2006 This Is America, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands.
- 2008 History Keeps Me Awake at Night: A Genealogy of Wojnarowicz, PPOW Gallery, New York, NY.
- 2008 L’Été photographique de Lectoure, Lectoure, France.
- 2008 Who's Afraid of America?, Wonderland Art Space, Copenhagen, Dk.
- 2009 On the Scene: Jason Lazarus, Wolfgang Plöger, Zoe Strauss, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
- 2010 Queer Brighton: Molly Landreth & Zoe Strauss, Lighthouse, Brightion, UK. Part of Brighton Photo Biennial.
- 2004-2005 St. James collection, 200 photos.
- 2007 Philadelphia Eagles/Lincoln Financial Field, vinyl print of Mattress Flip.
- 2008 World Class Boxing, Art Miami.
- The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
- Smith, Roberta (2012-07-12), "Art In Review Zoe Strauss: ‘10 Years, a Slideshow’". New York Times, The (NY)
- "Ramp Project: Zoe Strauss"
- Heller, Karen (2006-02-15), Page A01, “Suddenly, Her Images Clicked”. Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
- Sozanski, Edward J (2004-04-30), Page W25, "Taking Images of the streets back to their birthplace. Catch it While you can: Photos Alfresco Returns". Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA)
- Official website
- Philadelphia Museum of Art Zoe Strauss: 10 Years
- NY Times Review of 10 Years A Slideshow
- New York Times Review of PMA Show
- Whitney Museum of American Art
- Philadelphia City Paper
- Interview with Zoe Strauss on NPR affiliate WHYY:
- Flickr set of Strauss' 2006 I-95 Show
- Zoe Strauss at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York, NY