Philadelphia Museum of Art
Zoe Strauss: Ten Years
2011 Exhibition Grant
The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s (PMA) mid-career retrospective of the work of Zoe Strauss—a charismatic Philadelphia photographer with growing national recognition and distinction—will offer the first comprehensive assessment of the artist’s achievement to date. Strauss’ photographs range from candid street portraits and landscapes to highly detailed yet abstract compositions of building facades and vernacular signage. Her overall focus is on the working-class experience and disenfranchised people and places. She states that her ambition, as she touches on themes of identity, addiction, poverty, and hope, is to “create an epic narrative that reflects the beauty and struggle of everyday life.” In keeping with the populist philosophy of Strauss’ work, the exhibition of over 125 prints will spill out of the PMA photography galleries into the lobby, taking the form of a kiosk, designed by publishing/curatorial collective Megawords, for conversation, reading, and merchandise sales. The PMA will project slideshows, designed by Strauss, onto its façade, along with a banner-sized photograph that faces West Philadelphia’s residential neighborhoods. In addition, Strauss’ photographs will be seen on billboards around the city, the images chosen by the artist for their resonance with their neighborhood contexts. In 2010, Strauss completed her 10-year I-95 project, during which time she organized annual outdoor exhibitions of her work under the I-95 highway in South Philadelphia and sold signed prints for five dollars each, highlighting the intensely democratic nature of her practice. Strauss, a recipient of fellowships from United States Artists and the Pew Fellowships in the Arts, will hold public office hours and blog regularly during the retrospective.
Photo: Zoe Strauss, Daddy Tattoo, 2004. Inkjet print, dimensions variable