Through her photography, Joan Roth captured powerful and unexpected images of women—from homeless women in New York to Ethiopian Jews being airlifted to Israel. Fascinated with photography from an early age, Roth was profoundly moved by the work of the late Diane Arbus and apprenticed herself to Arbus’s mentor, Lisette Model. Her eight-year project Shopping Bag Ladies of New York, completed in 1982, showcased the images and stories of homeless women at a time when few others were willing to explore the subject. A year later, she joined rescue efforts airlifting Ethiopian Jews to Israel, photographing them through their journey. Inspired by the experience, Roth set out to capture images of Jewish women in their homelands around the world, from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Africa, for what became her book Jewish Women: A World of Tradition and Change. Her photographs have been featured in the collections of museums around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, the Jewish Museum, and the Musée d’Art Moderne.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Joan Roth." (Viewed on June 18, 2018) <https://jwa.org/people/roth-joan>.