Acclaimed for the emotional acuity of her portraits, Judith Joy Ross (born 1946) is an accomplished photographer whose work is found in the collections of America’s major museums. This exquisitely produced book focuses on one of Ross’s most personal series to date—67 portraits of students at public schools in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. In the early 1990s, Ross returned to the schools of her youth as a way of revisiting the experience of growing up. Shot with an old-fashioned 8 x 10–inch view camera, the photographs in Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools are unpretentious and astonishing in their psychological insight. Shown together for the first time in this volume, they reveal the universally wonderful and terrifying rite of passage of going to school.
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If I were young and my parents sensibly told me that they hoped I would be almost anything but a photographer, I think I would show them Judith Joy Ross’s “Portraits of the Hazleton Public Schools.” I would tell them that this is the sort of thing that is worth a life. —Robert Adams, Aperture
[The book] packs a powerful psychological and visual impact. —Linda Rosenkrantz, Contemporary Collectibles
[S]tunning photographs … a noble, never patronising study … that also reveals much about the psychology of the classroom. As Ross sets up her old-fashioned 8 x 10-inch view camera … a touching portrait of the formative rite of passage that is American school life is revealed. —Creative Review
An exquisitely produced book focusing on one of the artist’s most personal series to date—67 portraits of students at public schools in Hazelton, Penn… . These are sumptuous, depth-filled images, enhancing the pseudo-historical mien of Ross’ work. They are universal while also being unique. —Dave Gagon, Deseret Morning News