New York Photo Review
Volume 3 Issue 2 January 25 to February 4, 2012

An Odd Mix
Judith Joy Ross
The Devil Today and Reading to Dogs
Grace with Piglets by Judith Joy Ross. Source: pacemacgill.com
Judith Joy Ross, "Young Woman Waiting In Line” 2011

Although Judith Joy Ross is a highly regarded and well-known portrait photographer, I don’t feel the images on display in these two distinctly different bodies of work will win her legions of new admirers. I, for one, was not that familiar with Ross’s other work, apart from her Vietnam Memorial series, which I thought very powerful.

I can’t say the same about The Devil Today. In this exhibition of six large color prints, Ross focused her view camera on people concerned with environmental issues such as hydro-fracking for gas and the construction of pipelines. I thought her images of meetings, protests and rallies in Pennsylvania, New York and Washington, D.C. lacked the emotional connection that characterized her other work. And I wondered why she photographed the first meeting of the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network by showing the backs of the heads of some of the attendees—is this a mostly faceless group? In another image, with three protesters besides a road, holding signs, we are left wondering what the third protester looks like and what his sign says because we only see him from behind. On a more positive note, one image, which shows a young woman waiting to speak out against a hydro-fracking project, has a painterly quality, its colors soft and pastel-like, reminiscent perhaps of the spring day when it was taken.

 by Judith Joy Ross.
Judith Joy Ross, "Grace with Piglets" 2010

Reading to Dogs is, you should excuse the expression, a horse of another color. The seven photographs in this series, taken at farms, zoos, libraries and rehab centers, show animals and humans interacting with each other. The emotional connections I found lacking in The Devil Today are quite evident here. In one unforgettable image, “Grace with Piglets, “ a young girl is lying down in a pigsty, one piglet resting on her stomach, others all around her. Mama pig is close by feeding her brood, while Grace is clearly enjoying the experience. In the image entitled “Reading to Dogs,” a young girl in a Bethlehem, PA area library is improving her literacy skills by reading to a group of therapy dogs that are apparently listening intently. Who knew? In another picture, Ross shows a close relationship between two young girls, Iliana and Claire, sitting in a wildlife rehab center.

Overall, this series seems more representative of Ross’s work and is worthy of a gallery visit. The Devil Today” is just a sideshow, but form your own opinion.

Judith Joy Ross
The Devil Today and Reading to Dogs


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