Joni Sternbach has spent over a decade creating portraits of surfers on beaches around the world. Surf pictures are traditionally studies of motion, instead with Sternbach's SURFBOARD we discover an ethnographic study in stillness, portraits captured in a silvery and antiqued timelessness. By turning her camera away from the ocean and the surfer, and towards the utilitarian tools of the surfer, the artist creates SURFBOARD as a celebration and impassioned study of some of the most important designs in surf history. Through her careful eye and expert skill, Sternbach uncovers layers of meaning, historic and cultural clashes, as well as celebrates the visual pleasure of the surfboard and its origins. Using an antique ultra-large format camera and wet plate collodion glass plates, the artist captures the spirit of these totemic boards and suggests a modernist sculptural presence in her surfboard portraits.
SURFBOARD is presented as limited-edition silver-gelatin photographs in small and large-scale, as well as unique tintype photographs. The exhibition is accompanied by a limited-edition artist’s monograph of the same title, available exclusively through Black Box Projects.
Sternbach uses both large format film and early photographic processes to explore the present-day landscape and to make environmental portraits. Her work centres on our relationship with water, contrasting some of the most desolate deserts in the American West to iconic surf beaches around the world.
Sternbach received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts and a MA from New York University and International Center of Photography in 1987, where she taught for over a decade. She is an advisory board member and founding faculty at Penumbra Foundation in NYC, where she teaches wet plate collodion. Joni Sternbach lives and works in New York City.
Sternbach's work is held in many international and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery in London, Joslyn Museum, MOCA Jacksonville, Nelson Atkins Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She is the recipient of several grants including NYFA and CAPS and Santo Foundation. Sternbach recently released the self-published monograph Surfboard, which will be exhibited June 2021 with Black Box Projects in London.