Born in the Bronx, the daughter of a future hairdresser and Laundromat tycoon, Joni Sternbach emerged from the mix of Middle Eastern and eastern European, first-generation American parents. From an early age she gravitated towards the arts, culture, and customs that set her apart from her peers.
She studied art in high school and briefly at Goddard College, but she began her formal art education at the School of Visual Arts, where she graduated with a BFA in photography in 1976. She returned to school and received her Master of Arts in 1987 from New York University/International Center of Photography.
She is the recipient of several prestigious awards including this year's Hardcover Monograph from Critical Mass. She has have also received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts; its predecessor, Creative Artist Public Service; as well as a residency from the Center for Land Use Interpretation in Wendover, Utah. Her other awards include a residency with Light Work at Syracuse University and an artist's support grant from both Polaroid and Artist's Space in New York.
Sternbach's work has been included in prominent recent exhibitions including "Into The Ether: Contemporary Collodion Work" at RAYKO in San Francisco, CA; "Glass Love: Contemporary Art and Surf," at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum in CA; "By Invitation Only," at Kinz Tillou and Feigen Gallery in NYC, and "Wallpaper LAB" at
Lennon Weinberg Gallery, NYC.
She has also exhibited her work at The Saint Louis Art Museum, the Neuberger Museum at Purchase, NY; Lehman College in the Bronx; Hofstra University on Long Island; DFN Gallery in NYC; Julie Saul Gallery in NYC; and the Akus Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University. Sternbach's earlier work was included in the exhibition and book "Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
Public institutions have collected Sternbach's photographs; these include: the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Saint Louis Art Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Art, International Center of Photography in New York, Paris's Bibliotheque nationale, Polaroid International Collection in Cambridge, MA, Light Work at Syracuse University and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
Throughout her art career Sternbach has taught photography at many colleges and universities. Currently she leads workshops regarding wet-plate collodion photography at the International Center of Photography in NYC. She has taught previous workshops at ICP as well as Silver Eye Center for Photography in Pittsburgh, PA.