Israel welcomes the migration of the Jewish populace. For recently arrived African, Russian and Moroccan Jews, the pilgrimage to Israel has been a rebirth. With immense Measures of courage and joy, they embrace the opportunity to live in peace; at the same time knowing their new life requires daily practices of tolerance, patience and understanding.
Today’s Israelis offers my deep appreciation for the history and circumstances surrounding the transition of these ancient cultures. For 5,000 years, Jewish existence spread out all across the world. Now, after centuries of exodus – they’re coming home. This is one of the great social movements of our time. I believe it’s historic, and representative of other migrations going on in the world...
This photographic documentary focuses on the exploration of Israel’s changing identity. I began in 1991 by photographing the people of Operation Solomon, African Jews from an isolated Ethiopian culture transplanted into modern Israeli society. They arrived in Israel – a land moving rapidly toward the 21st century – with only faith to sustain them. The Russian Jews, on the other hand, came from a technologically advanced society. Their medical and scientific expertise helps assure Israel’s future. However, joined chiefly by the power of Judaism, African and Russian Jews have become separated by education, employment and technology. The question of their estrangement hangs between them. The counterweight in Israel’s identity is its Arab population; which comprises the final element in this documentary. Images of Arabs, of Palestinian and Bedouin heritage, depict scenes of family and work life.
During the years I have been documenting these cultures, political and socio-economic conditions have continued to fluctuation in the mid-East. After years of complex and difficult negotiation, the Peace Accord now exists. Jews and Arabs are taking their place in Israel’s growing agricultural society. Together they are beginning to harvest the many opportunities for peace.
The people of Israel offer you their story of transition.
I try to make empathy the hallmark of my photography. I use my camera to unveil and innate dignity in people, and strive to picture how they relate to themselves and others. Less than an hour drive from West Palm Beach lies Indiantown, Florida, a small community of a few thousand people. In one section of this primarily migrant town, poverty’s grip has created a daily struggle for survival. Blacks, Guatemalans, Hispanics and whites coexist in this ageless community.
In this part of Indiantown, the start rows of shacks all look the same. Some are one-room shanties shared by three, and sometimes four, generations. In winter, a toaster in the middle of the room may be the only source of heat. It is forced family intimacy in which children become adults quickly. Here, some say the definition of success is owning a used Cadillac and unwrapping a fresh cigar. Yet in this town of much sadness, strong values prevail: Family unity, self-pride, honor. You can see it in their eyes, in a mother’s touch, a child’s innocent strength, in the sharing of an elder’s wisdom. Perhaps more important, these images should also ask some compelling questions.
Creating this collection of photographs is my way of sharing the beauty and dignity of the people of Indiantown for those who have not been there. It is also an expression of the multitude of pride they have in themselves and each other.
In a small town close to my upstate New York home, I am examining the complex future of life on a Mohawk Reservation. Bounded by Canada and the St. Lawrence Seaway, this community is struggling against current economic hardships. However a second, and perhaps more important battle is emerging. This is the struggle to maintain an Indian cultural identity.
In addition, Mohawks is the final cornerstone in my trilogy which investigates the American Family. Photographed in black and white, Mohawks reveals the paradox of the 90’s – where desperation to keep pace with modern times frequently collides with traditional values and customs.
In the Appalachian hills of Virginia, the simple, yet inwardly powerful lives of the people ask questions about America in the 1990’s and life’s priorities – for Appalachian families, and for all of us.
An isolated self-pride pervades the people of the hills, despite hard times. The troubles that face Appalachian Families are many of the same problems that face all families. Yet, they are able to find joy and happiness while in the midst of life’s difficulties.
As the months progressed I became more involved with the families and their everyday life. It seemed that full-time work was only for a few. Government checks help most families make ends meet. Still, there was room for a few luxuries, like putting a satellite dish to receive more channels, or renting a video game for a dollar a night. Their priorities may seem strange at times, but they provoke us to look at our own choices in life.
Despite others perception of a mundane existence, I discovered a tremendous amount of self-worth among a hard-working people. Deep within each of them is beauty and dignity borne from the inner-strength of not only surviving but also enjoying life as best you can.
These photographs attempt to capture some of those values and the lifestyles of the “modern” family in Appalachia.
My photo documentary work explores and presents social conditions that motivate us to question “certainties” and look at choices. In Indiantown, Florida 1989-90, and Appalachian Families, 1990-91, I used my camera to unveil the innate dignity I perceived in the migrant town residents. As I strived to picture how they related to themselves and others, I found that the troubles faced by Indiantown and Appalachian residents were many of the same ageless problems that face all people. Yet these families were all able to find a measure of joy and happiness in the midst of life’s difficulties. The empathy from these early experiences comprise the signature of my photography.
My current work-in-progress, Today's Israelis-A Country In Transition, celebrates the resilience of the peoples of Israel. Living in Israel profoundly increased my appreciation of Judaism and my Jewish lineage - I learned more of its longevity, traditions, cultural richness, the complexities of Diaspora, and Israel's on-going policy of solicitation. What began as a personal journey became a quest to reveal the bigger picture of life in Israel. Today's Israelis looks at ancient cultures currently enveloped in transitions. No matter where in Israel I photograph, these images evidence the individual nature of dignity as well as the overall complexity of the times in which Israelis live. It is my hope that this nine-year series, moving through and preserving challenging historical times, will conclude in book form.
Images from the above projects have been exhibited in over 250 solo and group shows since 1989 . Juried exhibitions at regional, national and international levels have brought more than 60 First Place and Best of Show awards. More than 100 leading museums, galleries and private collectors across the United States and abroad have acquired work from these portfolios. Selected collections: New York (The Museum of Modern Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Jewish Museum), Washington (The National Museum of American Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art), Israel (The Beth Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, The Museum of Bedouin Culture, The Israel Museum), Texas (Museum of Fine Arts, Houston), Florida (Museum of Fine Arts, Norton Gallery) and Pennsylvania (The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies). Work from these portfolios has been reproduced for The New York Times, Surviving Salvation - The Ethiopian Jewish Family in Transition, about. . .Time Magazine, American Photography, Tokyo's Aqua Planet, Inc. and Meriden-Stinehour Press among others.
Since 1983 I have served as photography instructor for The Norman Howard School, a private school for children with learning disabilities in suburban Rochester, New York. My personal background has helped me to understand the challenge of traditional teaching. Today I encourage learning that is an alternative to this method. After receiving my Bachelor of Fine Arts from Rochester Institute for Technology in 1987, my focus turned to life in tightly knit and often isolated communities. I search for fundamental values that enable people to live with harmony-regardless of their economic status-in or adjacent to modern complex societies.
As a documentary fine art photographer, I want my work to communicate, as clearly as possible, the lives and circumstances of its subjects.
B.F.A., Photography, Rochester Institute of Technology, 1987
Photography Instructor, Norman Howard School, Rochester, NY 1983-present
The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
The National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC
The Corcoran Gallery Of Art, Washington, DC
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX
The Jewish Museum, New York, NY
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel
The Museum of Photographic Art, San Diego, CA
The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
Beth Hatefutsoth Museum of the Jewish Diaspora, Tel Aviv, Israel
B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC
The Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL
The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY
Yeshiva University Museum, New York, NY
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, NY
Public Library, NY The Spertus Museum, Chicago,Illinois
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angelis,CA
The Museum of Anthropology, Chico, CA
Norton Gallery, West Palm Beach, FL
Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley, CA
Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL
Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, NY
The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, Philadelphia, PA
Cape Museum of Fine Arts, Dennis, MA
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH
Shoreline Alliance For the Arts, Guilford, CT
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA
Center for Photography at Woodstock, NY
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
Indiantown Festival Board, Indiantown, FL
Florida A&M University, Tallahasse, FL
Visual Studies Workshop, Rochester, NY
Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY
Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J.
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., New York, NY
Louis Rich, Inc., Davenport, IA
C. Raimondo, Inc., Fort Lee, NJ
Dorcal Associates, Stamford, CT
The Farash Corporation, Rochester, NY
Hill & Knowlton, Attys., Rochester, NY
Manero & Potash, Attys., Greenwich, CT
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Inc, Jerusalem, Israel
Saatchi & Saatchi Business Communications, Rochester, NY
Siegel & Gale, Attorneys, New York, NY
UNUM, New York, NY
Toscoe Corp., Stamford, CT
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