Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools

A good story in a picture is much better than being alive. Being alive is complicated and hard, but a good picture — I can get lost in it.” – Judith Joy Ross

Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools: Judith Joy Ross For three years in the early 1990s, as a way of revisiting the experience of growing up, Judith Joy Ross returned to the schools of her youth in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and took photographs with an old-fashioned 8×10-inch view camera. She ended up with portraits unpretentious and astonishing in their psychological insight.

A number of these photographs are featured in “Judith Joy Ross: Stories,” an exhibition of over thirty 8×10-inch prints (1992-2004) that opened last week at the Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York. Sixty-seven of Ross’s portraits of students have also been collected in her new book, “Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools,” published by Yale University Press.

“While the pictures are often funny and sweet,” writes Mia Fineman in the New York Times, “Ms. Ross’s ability to connect with her subjects, to put them at ease, also gives them an uncommon emotional gravity.”

Her prints have a “visual intimacy” about them, she continues. There is something “willfully old-fashioned about her unironic, deeply humanist approach to portraiture.”

1 Discussion on “Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools”
  • The picture reminds me of school. It has been 5 years since I was released from the academe but the memories of strict professors, assignments piling up, big exams and even crushes make me want to go back to school once again. But of course that’s not a practical thing to do. School days are over and it’s time for me now to practice what I have learned from school.
    Old-fashioned photographs are never ‘old’ actually. Just like any classics they will always linger in the hearts and in the minds of everybody. And I bet Ross perfectly understands that though there are things that we need to forget there will always be good old days worth remembering forever.

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