I began making photographs upon returning to NYC after obtaining the Ph.D. degree in psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH.  Living in Greenwich Village at the time, teaching four evenings/week at the City University of New York, I spent much of the daytime roaming the Village and Washington Square Park with my trusty Honeywell Spotmatic SLR camera (still owned and serviceable).

In recent years much of my work has occurred on trips abroad (Senegal, Kenya, India, Indonesia, Peru, et al.), but these are a far cry from “travel photos.”  Although I am somewhat resistant to being categorized, my photographs tend to be of two genres.  Some are iconic images of scenes that could hardly be anything or anywhere other than what and where they are.  The point, however, usually is to provide a perspective, mood, or sense of doubt or wonder that renders the familiar intriguing.  Examples include: Turner-like images of bathers on the edge of Varanasi, shot from the middle of the Ganges at dawn; an elevated view of rice fields in the form of an enormous spider web in Sulawesi; an old burial ground overlooking the ocean on Rapa-Nui (Easter Island) at sunset.

Other images depict the small, familiar, mundane things we tend to overlook–arresting our attention and imbuing them with new or intensified meaning.  Examples include: details of thousands of written pleadings to the Virgin Mary, affixed to a wall in Ephesus (Turkey), where she went to live with Paul after her son was killed; natural compositions of seaweed and seagrass on the beach in Australia, reminiscent of a Pollack composition; shop windows on the street in Istanbul or Tel Aviv, photographed to heighten their sense of surreality and to reflect layers of meaning.

A retrospective book of 40 photographs spanning 50 years is available by clicking here.   And Europe, 1966, containing more than 200 photographs digitized from the original transparencies is also available here.

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Email: Joel.Lefkowitz@Baruch.cuny.edu

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