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Jean Karotkin

Member of the Month May 2022

Featured image for post Jean Karotkin

Artist Statement

For as long as I can remember, I have been inspired to create defining portraits of women. From women overcoming the pain and indignity of breast cancer to inmates of the world’s largest women’s prison, I have been intrigued by the distinctive character that makes a woman who she is. It is this spirit that I seek to capture in my medium format, black & white, documentary-style portraits. Similarly, with my portraits of botanicals, a subject traditionally equated with passive “femininity”, I hope to reframe the association by eschewing sentimentality in favor of heady tonal interplay.



Nearly two decades ago, I launched a career as a documentary/portrait photographer with a series of black and white portraits of breast cancer survivors. My camera of choice has been predominately the Mamiya RZ and the Mamiya 645. Black and white film is my “thing” which is what I chose to begin this daunting journey of shooting women dealing with the ravages of breast cancer across the US. I discovered my passion for photography “late in life” because of this project, but regardless I wanted to document the ways female beauty can be enhanced by angry scars and indomitable courage. My images, which I self-published in the collection Body & Soul: The Courage & Beauty of Breast Cancer Survivors, garnered national recognition from the Dallas Morning News; Oprah magazine; Texas Monthly; CNN; NPR; and on NBCs Today Show with Ann Curry. I’ve since produced numerous other bodies of work celebrating women and disrupting prevailing notions of beauty. (In)Sight: Women Who Work Behind the Lens, featuring a series of black/white portraits of some of the most eminent female photographers and curators working today will be part of group exhibition with Soho Photo Gallery, NYC, March 30th, 2022. My series, Gymnopédies, exposes the counterintuitive nature of botanicals, proving flowers can be their most colorful in black/white. DISAPPEARING SOUL: SELF PORTRAITS IN THE TIME OF COVID, my latest series documenting my life during “lockdown” has received recognition and publication this past year from Eye of Photography, ARTDOC, Fotonostrum Online Magazine as well as ‘honorable mention’ from the Julia Margaret Cameron Competition.

Originally from Texas, I’m now based in New York City.