|Born||April 1, 1970
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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, Strauss 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 2000 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 had a solo exhibition of her photographs, entitled Ramp Project: Zoe Strauss, 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.
She 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.
10 Years Project
For a decade between 2001 and 2010, Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss (b. 1970) showed her photographic works once a year in a public space beneath an I-95 highway overpass in South Philadelphia. In these annual one-day exhibitions, Strauss mounted her color photographs to the concrete bridge supports and viewers could buy photocopies for five dollars. Through portraits and documents of houses and signage, Strauss looked unflinchingly at the economic struggles and hardscrabble lives of residents in her own community and other parts of the United States. She describes her work as "an epic narrative about the beauty and struggle of everyday life." Strauss, a self-taught photographer and political activist, sees her work as a type of social intervention, and she has often used billboards and public meetings as venues. This exhibition is a mid-career retrospective and the first critical assessment of her decade-long project.
The Billboard Project is a series of 54 billboards featuring photographs by Zoe Strauss, installed as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition Zoe Strauss: Ten Years. Installed throughout Philadelphia, the project is loosely structured around the themes of the Odyssey, presenting an epic story about journey and homecoming. For ten years Strauss installed her annual I-95 exhibition in South Philadelphia which she describes as an “epic narrative about the beauty and struggle of everyday life.” The Billboard Project represents another telling of that narrative. Displaying photographs from Strauss’s travels around the country including Grand Isle Beach in the Gulf of Mexico, Venice Beach, CA, Rosedale, MS, and Fairbanks, AK, the Billboard Project is designed for both residents and visitors, encouraging each to construct their own narrative and journey around these images. In addition to underscoring the themes of journey and homecoming, the billboards will also touch upon the subjects of migration and immigration, fortune, hospitality, conflict and resolution, decision-making and mystery. Special thanks to Clear Channel Outdoor and Krain Outdoor Advertising for their generous donation of the billboards to extend the reach of the exhibition into the city of Philadelphia. Extra special thanks to Gary Turner.
- 2002-2009 Works-in-Progress exhibit, Southwark Community Center, last week of October annually, Philadelphia
- 2001-2010 Under 95 exhibit, Front St. and Mifflin St., the 1st weekend of May annually, Philadelphia
- 2006 Projected and Selected Images, Acuna-Hansen Gallery, Los Angeles
- 2006 Ramp Project, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
- 2007 I-95 Works in Progress, Etc. Galerie, Prague
- 2007 If You Reading This, Silverstein Photography, New York City
- 2008 Zoe Strauss: Works in Progress, Peeler Art Center, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana
- 2009 America: We Love Having You Here, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York City
- 2010 Photographs by Zoe Strauss, Under I-95, Philadelphia
- 2010 Zoe Strauss: Works for Columbus, OH, Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio
- 2012 Zoe Strauss: 10 Years, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
- 2012 Zoe Strauss: 10 Years: A Slideshow, Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York Ciy
- 1997 Indianapolis Installation Festival, Whirlforce Medical Research Laboratories, Indianapolis Juried Exhibition, 3rd in show.
- 2002 Leeway Award winners group show, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia
- 2004 Big Nothing Cabaret, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia
- 2004 Works on Paper, Arcadia University, Glenside, Pennsylvania
- 2006 Whitney Biennial: Day for Night, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City
- 2006 Summer Vacation: Photographs from the Collection, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia
- 2006 This Is America, Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands
- 2008 History Keeps Me Awake at Night: A Genealogy of Wojnarowicz, PPOW Gallery, New York City
- 2008 L’Été photographique de Lectoure, Lectoure, France.
- 2008 Who's Afraid of America?, Wonderland Art Space, Copenhagen
- 2009 On the Scene: Jason Lazarus, Wolfgang Plöger, Zoe Strauss, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
- 2010 Queer Brighton: Molly Landreth & Zoe Strauss, Lighthouse, Brighton Part of Brighton Photo Biennial.
- 2013 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh 
- 2004-2005 St. James collection, 200 photos
- 2007 Philadelphia Eagles/Lincoln Financial Field, vinyl print of Mattress Flip
- 2008 World Class Boxing, Art Miami
Strauss' work is held in the following permanent public collection:
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.
- 2007 USA Gund Fellow, Visual Arts.
- 2007 $50,000 grant from United States Artists
- "Zoe Strauss: 10 Years", International Center of Photography, Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- Eichel, Molly. "Zoe Strauss accepted into Magnum Photos", philly.com, Retrieved 11 September 2014.
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- "Magnum Photos Photographer Profile: Zoe Strauss", Magnum Photos, Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- Smith, Roberta (2012-07-12), "Art In Review Zoe Strauss: ‘10 Years, a Slideshow’". The New York Times
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- "Ramp Project: Zoe Strauss", Institute of Contemporary Art, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- 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". The Philadelphia Inquirer
- https://web.archive.org/web/20090319170331/http://www.ammobooks.com/new/books/america/. Archived from the original on March 19, 2009. Retrieved November 22, 2008. Missing or empty
- Hudson, Suzanne. "Zoe Strauss", Artforum, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Zoe Strauss: Works in Progress at Peeler Art Center", Depauw Art Center, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- , The Fader, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Zoe Strauss: Works for Columbus, OH", Wexner Center for the Arts, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Exhibitions - Zoe Strauss: 10 Years", Philadelphia Museum of Art, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
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- "Arcadia University Art Gallery: Works on Paper 2004". Gargoyle.arcadia.edu. 2004-03-28. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
- "Whitney Biennial 2006: Day for Night", Whitney Museum of American Art, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- Follow Us. "Museums/Exhibits :: Philadelphia City Paper. 25 Years of Independent Journalism". Citypaper.net. Retrieved 2016-03-03.
- "This is America. Visies op de Amerikaanse droom". Centraal Museum. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "History Keeps Me Awake at Night A Genealogy of David Wojnarowicz - David Wojanrowicz | Press | PPOW Gallery". www.ppowgallery.com. Retrieved 2016-03-04.
- "L'ete Photographique de Lectoure 2008". lacritique. September 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2016.
- (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20110719133013/http://wonderlandonline.dk/media/was.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2010. Missing or empty
- "On the Scene: Jason Lazarus, Wolfgang Plöger, Zoe Strauss", Art Institute of Chicago, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20101019110833/http://www.list.co.uk/event/20099312-molly-landreth-and-zoe-strauss-queer-brighton/. Archived from the original on October 19, 2010. Retrieved October 12, 2010. Missing or empty
- "Artists: Zoe Strauss", 2013 Carnegie International, Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "Collections: Zoe Strauss", Philadelphia Museum of Art, Retrieved 11 September 2014.
- "Zoe Strauss SA '02", Leeway Foundation, Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series: Zoe Strauss", CalArts, Retrieved 6 October 2014.