Zoe Strauss

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Zoe Strauss
Zoe Strauss (cropped).jpg
Strauss in 2011
Born(1970-04-01)April 1, 1970
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Known forPhotography

Zoe Strauss (born 1970) is an American photographer[1] and a nominee member of Magnum Photos.[2] She uses Philadelphia as a primary setting and subject for her work.[1][2] Curator Peter Barberie identifies her as a street photographer, like Walker Evans or Robert Frank, and has said "the woman and man on the street, yearning to be heard, are the basis of her art."[3]

In 2006 her work was included in the Whitney Biennial[4] and her solo exhibition, Ramp Project: Zoe Strauss, was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.[5] In 2012 a mid-career retrospective, Zoe Strauss: 10 Years, was shown at Philadelphia Museum of Art,[6] accompanied in Philadelphia by a display of 54 billboards showing her photographs, and at the International Center of Photography in New York City.

Strauss received a Seedling Award from the Leeway Foundation in 2002,[7] a Pew Fellowship in 2005,[8] a USA Gund Fellowship and a grant of $50,000 by United States Artists in 2007,[9] and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2017.[10]

Life and work[edit]

Strauss was born in 1970 in Philadelphia.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14] Strauss calls the Project an "epic narrative" of her own neighborhood.[14] "When I started shooting, it was as if somewhere hidden in my head I had been waiting for this," she has said.[14]

Between 2000 and 2011, Strauss's photographic work culminated in a yearly Under I-95 show which took place in a public space beneath an I-95 highway overpass in South Philadelphia.[11] She displayed her photographs on concrete bridge supports under the highway and offered photocopies for $5 each.[1] The exhibit Zoe Strauss: 10 Years was organized by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where it appeared in 2012, and was also shown at the International Center of Photography, New York City, in 2013/2014.[15][16] The show was a mid-career retrospective, building upon Strauss' ten years of photographic works, shown yearly from 2001 up to 2010. The 2012 exhibition was the first critical assessment of Strauss' ten-year project,[6][17] and was accompanied by a 250-illustration catalogue, Zoe Strauss: 10 Years.[3]

The 2012 Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition included the installation throughout Philadelphia of 54 billboards featuring Strauss' photographs. Although they could be viewed individually, the images were loosely structured around the themes of the Odyssey, journey and homecoming.[18] In this, the Billboard Project was similar to Strauss' annual I-95 exhibition which she describes as an "epic narrative about the beauty and struggle of everyday life".[19] The Billboard Project included photographs from Strauss's travels around the country, from the Gulf of Mexico to Fairbanks, AK.[18][19]

She frequently photographs near her grandparents' former home at 16th and Susquehanna.[20] 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."[21]

In July 2012 Strauss was elected into the Magnum Photos agency as a nominee.[2]

Strauss served as a Dodd Chair (2014–2015) at the Lamar Dodd School of Art.[22]


  • America. AMMO, 2008. ISBN 978-1934429136.
  • Zoe Strauss: 10 Years. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art; New Haven: Yale University, 2012. ISBN 978-0300179774. Exhibition catalogue.


Solo exhibitions[edit]

Group exhibitions[edit]



Strauss' work is held in the following permanent public collection:



  1. ^ a b c "Zoe Strauss: 10 Years", International Center of Photography. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Eichel, Molly. "Zoe Strauss accepted into Magnum Photos", Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Guzman, Alissa (May 7, 2012). "A Street Photographer for the 21st Century". Hyperallergic. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Whitney Biennial 2006: Day for Night", Whitney Museum of American Art. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Ramp Project: Zoe Strauss", Institute of Contemporary Art. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  6. ^ a b c "Zoe Strauss: Ten Years". Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Zoe Strauss SA '02", Leeway Foundation. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Grants & Grantees". Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. December 6, 2016. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  9. ^ "United States Artists announces 50 USA fellowships for 2007" (PDF). United States Artists. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  10. ^ a b "Zoe Strauss". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. April 6, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c "Zoe Strauss", 2013 Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie International. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  12. ^ "Magnum Photos Photographer Profile: Zoe Strauss", Magnum Photos. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  13. ^ Smith, Roberta (July 12, 2012), "Art in Review Zoe Strauss: ‘10 Years, a Slideshow’". The New York Times
  14. ^ a b c "Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series: Zoe Strauss", California Institute of the Arts. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Zoe Strauss: 10 Years @ Intl Center of Photography, NY Oct 04, 2013 – Jan 19, 2014". Juxtapos. October 4, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  16. ^ a b "Zoe Strauss 10 Years". International Center of Photography. February 23, 2016. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "Photographer Zoe Strauss Exhibits 'Ten Years' of Unsettling Imagery". DZI: The Voice. January 16, 2012. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  18. ^ a b c d Crimmins, Peter (January 13, 2012). "Zoe Strauss' towering images reflect city's progress and people". NewsWorks. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Billboard Project: Zoe Strauss Ten Years". Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  20. ^ Heller, Karen (February 15, 2006), Page A01, "Suddenly, Her Images Clicked". The Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
  21. ^ Sozanski, Edward J (April 30, 2004), Page W25, "Taking Images of the streets back to their birthplace. Catch it While you can: Photos Alfresco Returns". The Philadelphia Inquirer
  22. ^ allisons (November 2, 2017). "Zoe Strauss". LAMAR DODD SCHOOL OF ART. Retrieved March 1, 2019.
  23. ^ "Zoe Strauss (Biography)". Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation 2011 Biennial Awards. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  24. ^ Sozanski, Edward J. (January 22, 2012). "Art: Under 95 to quite a bit higher for Strauss". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  25. ^ Hudson, Suzanne. "Zoe Strauss", Artforum. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  26. ^ "Zoe Strauss: Works in Progress at Peeler Art Center", Depauw Art Center. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  27. ^ [1], The Fader. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  28. ^ "Zoe Strauss: Works for Columbus, OH", Wexner Center for the Arts. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  29. ^ "Zoe Strauss – Exhibitions – Bruce Silverstein", Bruce Silverstein Gallery. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  30. ^ a b "Arcadia University Art Gallery: Works on Paper 2004". Gargoyle.arcadia.edu. March 28, 2004. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  31. ^ Follow Us. "Museums/Exhibits :: Philadelphia City Paper. 25 Years of Independent Journalism". Citypaper.net. Retrieved March 3, 2016.
  32. ^ "This is America. Visies op de Amerikaanse droom". Centraal Museum. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  33. ^ "History Keeps Me Awake at Night A Genealogy of David Wojnarowicz – David Wojanrowicz | Press | PPOW Gallery". www.ppowgallery.com. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  34. ^ "L'ete Photographique de Lectoure 2008". lacritique. September 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  35. ^ "Who's Afraid of America? 30.10 08 – 30.11 08 An exhibition with Tobin Yelland, Larry Clark, Cheryl Dunn, Zoe Strauss, LaToya Ruby Frazier & Justyna Badach" (PDF). Copenhagen: Wonderland Art Space. 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 19, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  36. ^ "On the Scene: Jason Lazarus, Wolfgang Plöger, Zoe Strauss", Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  37. ^ "BPB Curated: Queer Brighton Artists: Molly Landreth & Zoe Strauss Dates: Oct 2nd – Nov 14th 2010". Brighton Photo Bienniale 2010. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  38. ^ "Brighton Photo Biennial and Queer Culture – A Season". University of Brighton. Retrieved March 3, 2017.
  39. ^ "Congrats!". Daily Campello Art News. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  40. ^ "Seeing the world through the lens of Zoe Strauss". Knight Foundation. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
  41. ^ "Collections: Zoe Strauss", Philadelphia Museum of Art. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  42. ^ "Search Results". International Center of Photography. Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  43. ^ "Zoe Strauss". United States Artists. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  44. ^ "Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series: Zoe Strauss", CalArts. Retrieved October 6, 2014.

External links[edit]