Joni Sternbach is an American artist, photographer, and filmmaker. Over the course of a career spanning many decades, her portrait-based work explores a variety of themes, including domesticity and the family, and sexuality and the body. Issues of gender, identity and feminism were the most critical themes in her early work from the 1980s-1990s, where the female figure—including her own— was a central motif. In her current work, Sternbach experiments with a variety of historic photographic processes and is best known for her wet plate collodion tintype portraits of surfers and surfboards, made around the globe.

Sternbach received her BFA in Photography from the School of Visual Arts and a MA from New York University and International Center of Photography, where she taught for over a decade. She is an advisory board member and founding faculty at Penumbra Foundation in NYC, where she currently teaches.

Sternbach’s work is held in many international and public collections including the LACMA, The High Museum, National Portrait Gallery in London, Joslyn Museum, MOCA Jacksonville, Nelson Atkins Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She is the recipient of several grants including NYFA and CAPS and Santo Foundation.

She is represented in Los Angeles by Von Lintel Gallery, in London by Black Box Projects,

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2021 – SURFBOARD Black Box Projects, London, UK
2020 – SURFBOARD Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA 
2019 – The Momentary Wave MOAH, Lancaster, CA
2018 – Ocean Side Galerie Catherine et Andre Hug, Paris, France
– The Momentary Wave,
Halekulani Gallery, Honolulu, HI
2017 VAST: Sea Salt, Sand, Sky, The Harn Museum, Gainesville, FL
2016 – Her Wave Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
2015 Surfland Helder Supply, Biarritz, France
– Surfland Galerie Hug. Paris, France
2014 – The Passengers Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC
2012 – Surfland Revisited, 2006-2012 Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC
– Surfland Southeast Museum of Photography. Daytona Beach, FL
2011 Sea Creatures Joseph Bellows Gallery
2009 Surfland Peabody Essex Museum. Salem, MA
Surfland Blue Sky Gallery. Portland, OR
– Lishui Photo Festival. Lishui, China
– Surfland String Room Gallery. Wells College. Aurora, NY
 2007 – Surfland Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Santa Barbara, CA
2006 New Photographs Kenise Barnes Fine Art
2005 Abandoned Galerie BMG, Woodstock, NY
2004 What is This Heaven East Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2000 Untitled Silhouettes Kenise Barnes Fine Art
1995 – Untitled Silhouettes Bergdorf Goodman, NY
1992 – Untitled Silhouettes Julie Saul Gallery, NY

Selected Group Exhibitions

2022 The Art Show, NYC November 3-6, 2022
2021 Fergus Mcaffrey Gallery, Barbarian Days
High Museum of Art, Underexposed: Women Photographers from the Collection
2020 Black Box Projects, London, UK, Into The Blue
HCP, Houston, TX, Keeper of the Hearth
Black Box Projects & Von Lintel Gallery. Photo London Digital
  University of New Mexico, A Yellow Rose Project
2019 Black Box Projects, London, UK Fundamentals 
  Shelburne Art Museum, VT Time Lapse: Contemporary Analogue Photography
Bullivant Gallery, St Louis, MO California Dreamin’
2018 JP Morgan Chase, Paris Photo Special Exhibition at Paris Photo This Must Be The Place
Circle Contemporary Gallery, Wadebridge, England
– Von Lintel Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Talk To Me
– L. Parker Stephenson Photographs, NYC Coast To Coast
2017 – Panopticon Gallery, Boston, MA  At Sea
– Pingyao Photo Festival, China. Old School/New School
– Huntington Beach Art Center, Women in Surfing: Art & History. 
2016 – National Portrait Gallery, London, UK Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2016
– MOCA Jacksonville, FL Retro-spective: Analog Photography in a Digital World       
– Candela Gallery and Books, Richmond, VA  Unbound 5
Museum Belvédère, Heerenveen, Netherlands. Arena, Noordelicht Photo Festival    
– Musée de l’Elysée|Memory of the Future 
2015 – Gallery at the School of Design at Mount Ida. Newton, MA New Visionaries: Photographers Who Bridge Art + Commerce
2014 – Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC Not Long Hidden
2013 – The Fralin Museum of Art. Charlottesville, VA Looking at the New West
– The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Kansas City, MO About Face: Contemporary Portraiture
– Light Factory, Charlotte, NC Sometime Other Than Now: Alternative Processes in Contemporary Photography
– United Photo Industries, Brooklyn, NY Drawn To Water
2012 – KT Fine Art. East Hampton, NY She Sells Seashells by the Seashore
– Candela Books & Gallery. Richmond, VA Unbound
– Santa Barbara Museum of Art Portrayal / Betrayal
– Rick Wester Fine Art. NYC AIPAD, PULSE
– Space 15 Twenty. Los Angeles, CA Hellawood
– Photo Center NW. Seattle, WA surFACE: Contemporary Wet Plate Collodion Portraiture
2011 – Rick Wester Fine Art. Miami, FL PULSE Art Fair
– Lúz Gallery. Victoria, BC IMPRINT :: 2011
– Joslyn Art Museum. Omaha, NE American Landscape: Contemporary Photographs of the West
– Jennifer Schwartz Gallery. Atlanta, GA Wet Plate and Mirrors: Photographers Working with Historical Processes
– The Palos Verdes Art Center, Palos Verdes, CA Surf’s Up
– Museum of Ventura County. Ventura, CA Splash: Celebrating Ventura County Beach Culture and Ocean-Inspired Art
– Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Paris, France L’Objet Photographique
– Bric Rotunda Gallery. Brooklyn, NY Water Water Every Where
– Houston Center for Photography. Benfeit Auction
2010 – Aperture Foundation Benefit Auction NYC
– Space 15 Twenty Gallery, LA, CA Stoked on Summer
– Gallery 1500, Sao Paulo, Brazil SP Arte
2009 – Bonni Benrubi Gallery. NYC Hot Fun in the Summertime
– Scheinbaum and Russek Gallery. Santa Fe, NM Summer’s Amost Gone
– Sue Scott Gallery. NYC We’re All Gonna Die
– Art Strand Gallery. Povincetown, MA It’s all about Photography
– Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Los Angeles, CA Transforming Photography
– NY Photo Festival. Brooklyn, NY All Over The Place curated by William Ewing
– Clark Gallery. Lincoln, MA Float
2008 – RayKo Photo Center. San Francisco, CA Into The Ether
– Pulse Art Fair. NYC Artware editions at the VIP lounge
– 23 Sandy Gallery. Portland, OR Resurrection
2007 – Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. Santa Barbara, CA Glass Love: Contemporary Art And Surf
– Silvermine Guild Arts Center. New Canaan, CT SPECTRA ’07: National Photography Triennial
– Kinz, Tillou + Feigen. NYC By Invitation Only
– Edward Cella Art + Architecture. Santa Barbara, CA Welcome to Our Neighborhood
2006 – Chicago Art Source. Chicago, IL Nostalgic Noir
– Lennon, Weinberg Gallery. NYC Wallpaper Lab
– Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Houston, Texas Photo Forum
– St Louis Art Museum. St Louis, MO Recent Landscape Photography: The Intimate and the Sublime
2005 – Jenkins Johnson Gallery, NYC Inaugural Exhibition
– Foley Gallery. NYC When We Were Young
– Photo Eye Gallery. Santa Fe, NM OnLine/OnSite
2004 – Senior and Shopmaker Gallery. NYC Permutations on the Picturesque
– Hofstra University. Hempstead, NY Where the Island Begins
– Lehman College Art Gallery. Bronx, NY Images of Time and Place: Contemporary Views of Landscape 
2003 – Kenise Barnes Fine Art. Larchmont, NY Two Person Show
– White Room Gallery. Los Angeles, California Inspirations and Interpretations
2002 – Islip Art Museum. Islip, NY Body Language
– Akus Gallery. Eastern Connecticut State University. Willimantic, CT Permeable Borders
– Washington Square East Galleries. NYC Small Works
2001 – Sideshow Gallery. Brooklyn, NY 21st Suffragette
– Kenise Barnes Fine Art. Larchmont, NY Aqua Marine
2000 – Silver Eye Center for Photography. Pittsburgh, PA
1994 – Paul Kopeikin Gallery. LA, California Hidden Faces
– Art In General. NYC Little Things
1993 – Salena Gallery. Long Island University. Brooklyn, NY Two Person Exhibition
– Triangle Theater, Long Island University. Brooklyn, NY Body And Soul Collaborative Installation
– University Of Texas at Austin A Second Look: Women Photographers at the HRHRC Catalogue
1991 – Museum Of Modern Art. NY Pleasures And Terrors of Domestic Comfort
1998 – Houston Center For Photography. Houston, TX The Other Catalogue
– Bayfront NATO Center for The Arts. Erie. PA Totem Polemic Or, The Family Emblem
1986 – Stokker Stikker Gallery. NYC Two Person Exhibition
– Light Work Gallery. Syracuse, NY Three Person Exhibition

Grants, Awards and Residencies

2020 – Yucca Valley Material Lab
2018 – MacDowell Colony Artist in Residence
2016 – National Portrait Gallery, London. Taylor Wessing Award, 2nd Prize
2013 – Ucross Foundation. Clearmont, WY
2012 – Ucross Foundation. Clearmont, WY
– Kimmel Harding Nelson. Nebraska City, Nebraska
2011 – Clarence John Laughlin Award. New Orleans Photo Alliance
– The Art Park. Byron Bay, NSW Australia
2010 – The Santo Foundation, Artist Grant
– Center for Land Use Interpretation. Wendover, UT
2008 – Photo Lucida Hard Cover Monograph
– Center for Land Use Interpretation. Wendover, UT
1992 – Polaroid Artists Support Grant
1987 – Light Work. Syracuse, NY. Artist In Residence Grant
1982 – Creative Artists Public Service

Public Collections

The High Museum of Art
LA County Museum of Art
MOCA Jacksonville
National Portrait Gallery, London, UK
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Peabody Essex Museum
J.P. Morgan Chase
Tate Museum of Art, Library Collection
Maison Européenne de la Photographie. Paris, France
Museum of Photographic Arts San Diego
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Washington, DC
The Cleveland Museum of Art
St. Louis Art Museum
University Of Texas At Austin. Harry Ransom Center
Polaroid International Collection
Bibliotheque Nationale
International Center Of Photography
Center For Photography at Woodstock
Light Work

Curated Exhibitons

Reimaging Likeness + Landscape. Penumbra Foundation March-June 24, 2022


Master Of Arts. Photography 1987 New York University/International Center of Photography
Bachelor Of Fine Arts. Photography 1977 School of Visual Arts
Studio Art. 1971 – 72 Goddard College. Plainfield, Vermont
Camp Tintype. 2000 Wetplate workshop with John Coffer
Scully and Osterman Studio. 2002 Wetplate Tutorial


Visiting Artist: Cooper Union 2014-2016
Adjunct Instructor in Art: New York University 1986 – 2007
Adjunct Professor of Art: Queensborough Community College. Bayside, NY 2001 – 2002
Adjunct Faculty: Bergen Community College. Paramus, NJ. 1999 – 2000
Instructor In Art: The American School In London 1996
Wet-Plate Workshops: 2003 – present:
International Center of Photography
Penumbra Foundation
Houston Center for Photography
Utah State University, Caine College of the Arts
Peabody Essex Museum
Silver Eye Center for Photography


Kissing A Stranger – Monograph 2022
As Much As – artist Book. 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


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photograph by Ben Barnick