Joni Sternbach makes unique tintype portraits of surfers in her ongoing series — Surfland. A tinype is a wet plate process that dates back to the 1850s. A plate of iron is coated with dark bitumen, sensitized with a silver salt solution and exposed in a large-format camera. It’s a one-of-a-kind. Sternbach develops the image right there on the sands of Australia, England, France and both coasts of the United States. The hand-poured technique drenches the work in tactile details, rich tones and a weathered nostalgia. Echoing traditions of anthropological photography, the work is a celebration and chronicle of modern surf culture.
American artist Joni Sternbach was born in the Bronx and is a native New Yorker. She is a Visiting Artist at Cooper Union School of Art and faculty member at the International Centre of Photography and The Penumbra Foundation in New York, where she teaches wet plate collodion. Sternbach uses early photographic processes to create contemporary landscapes and environmental portraits and her work centres on man’s relationship to water. Her long-term projects involve the pursuit and understanding of the Western landscape and the seriesSurfland, which features tintype portraits of surfers. The photographs are a unique blending of subject matter and photographic technique. Joni works with large-format cameras and the historic wet-plate collodion process that must be prepared and developed on location. The raw quality and immediacy of collodion suits my subject matter, giving it a distinctive appearance and echoing important traditions of nineteenth-century anthropological photography.
Sternbach is a native New Yorker. She has a BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts and an MA from New York University/International Center of Photography. Her work is included in many public collections, with the most recent acquisition from the National Portrait Gallery in London, The Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City and Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. She is the recipient of several grants including the Clarence John Laughlin award and NYFA. Her new monograph,Surf Site Tin Typewas published by Damiani Editore in March 2015.
Joni lives and works in New York City.
Surfboard – Monograph 2020 Keeper Of The Hearth by Odette England High Tide Montauk Point, artist book 2019 Surfing by Jim Heimann published by Taschen 2016 The Memory of the Future, published by Musée de l’Elysée edited by Tatyana Franck 2016 Surf Site Tin Type, published by Damiani Editore – Monograph 2015 The Passengers published by Cafe Royal Books 2014 Promise Land published by Cafe Royal Books 2013 The Photograph Not Taken by Will Steacy 2012 Face to Face: Ocean Portraits by Huw Lewis-Jones 2010 SurfLand, published by Photolucida essay by Phillip Prodger – Monograph 2009 Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort by Peter Galassi – published by MOMA 1991