If you happened to catch The Gauge last week, you know that I was thoroughly intrigued by one of the students at Greenwich House who had pottery pieces in various stages of development and on several floors of the school’s five-floor walk-up. I took lots of pictures of her (only posted two) and she asked me what the pictures were for. I teasingly said they were for The New York Times, hoping to get a rise out of her… she rolled her eyes and went back to her work, saying she had already been in The New York Times.
Well, as soon as I posted my photos on The Gauge, I received a comment on the post telling me that the woman in the photographs is Rebecca Lepkoff, a photographer whose work is featured in the Jewish Museum. I went to the site to find that her photos are part of a collection at the Museum called Radical Camera. Her black and white photos are stunning. Now I am completely enthralled.
On further investigation (Google), I find that not only has Ms. Lepkoff been in The New York Times, she was the subject of a Channel 13 special; and her work is in the following permanent collections: National Museum of Art (Washington, D.C); Bank of America; Museum of the City of New York; National Gallery of Canada. Rebecca’s Lepkoff’s work is also included in Naomi Rosenblum’s book A History of Women Photographers. Now I am completely in awe.
Rebecca Lepkoff was born in 1916 and was raised on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. In 1938 she started taking pictures that chronicle the ethnically-vibrant culture resident in these neighborhoods. Her early images are preserved on rare silver gelatin prints which make them even more valuable and sought after by collectors. Ms. Lepkoff continued her work as a photographer through the ’80’s. And today has added to her crafts, creating pottery and quilts —which, according to her website, are not for sale. Ms. Lepkoff divides her time between her SOHO loft and her country home in Vermont.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Rebecca by phone this morning as she gave me her permission to feature some of her photos on this blog. Her joy and enthusiasm is so inspiring …and she told me that she is having a one-woman show of her photographs at The Lower East Side Tenement Museum opening in a week.
… enjoy some of her photos