Zeva Oelbaum

Selected Quotes

Even if you can’t help thinking how nice they’d look in the foyer, Oelbaum’s botanical photographs are too quirky, too clever, and too flat-out beautiful to dismiss as merely decorative. [The photos] demonstrate a true flair for abstracted composition.

—Vince Aletti, The Village Voice, Shortlist, November 12, 2003

The markings look like bits of ornamentation (swirls and curlicues) or even DNA. Surely, the latter resemblance is by design. These books are the genetic code of Jewish culture, Oelbaum is saying. As objects, Oelbaum’s books are rooted in time and space. As vessels, they’re timeless and universal.

—Mark Feeney, The Boston Globe, October 3, 2009

Zeva Oelbaum’s discovery in 1996 of a century-old botanical journal in a New England antiques store started her on a photographic project that beautifully amplifies the intersection of the anonymous woman who pressed flowers into the book… Here, Oelbaum gives it a second life.

—Hilarie M. Sheets, ARTnews, Summer 2002

A truly gifted photographer, Zeva Oelbaum discovered that there were words, scribbles, and seemingly insignificant ink blots written on the endpapers of old Hebrew books passed down through generations among her family.

…[Her] dazzlingly beautiful photographs usher those who experience her work in to the timeless sea of ink and letters and words and dots…

—Arthur Kurzweil, 2008 (author of Kabbalah for Dummies, Wiley, 2007)

Many of the best pictures here deal with unpopulated, vacant spaces—rooms that have been abandoned, trashed or nearly stripped bare but somehow refuse to surrender their human presence. Zeva Oelbaum photographs the house she grew up in just before it was turned over to new owners…

—Vince Aletti, The Village Voice, August 22, 2000

Zeva Oelbaum’s shots of the final moments in her barren Kansas City home are both beautiful and heavy-hearted; shot just after her mother’s death, her pieces portray her unpreparedness to surrender her childhood home to strangers

—Sharon Nichols, Woodstock Times, March 29, 2001

Zeva Oelbaum’s cyanotype botanicals (blue photographic prints), a few examples of which are reproduced here from her beautiful book Blue Prints (2002), create an unexpected, otherworldly effect.

—Bellemeade books. Blogspot, February 2, 2008

Oelbaum has produced a stunning collection of photographs and commentary that is at once nostalgic and modern.

—Cynthia Clark, Publisher’s Weekly, February 25, 2002

[Oelbaum’s] cyanotypes have an abstract quality—an appearance of floating overhead or underwater. In reality, they are reminders of how striking the earth’s common creatures are. Enlarged, the cicada wing resembles a gentle net. The moonbeam and other flowers are celebrations.

Jane Gottlieb, PhotoDistrict News, February, 2003

[The photos] create an effect that is at once nostalgic and formally inventive, with a conceptual link to &hellp; documentary photography&hellp;.

—Dan Bischoff, The Star-Ledger, October 29th, 2003

[Oelbaum’s new book] features sharp, haunting blue images of flowers and animals, including a nearly abstract goose feather, brilliant starfish, contrasting versions of pythons, clematis that seems to billow on the page. Familiar objects are made foreign and presented in a new (blue) light. Some images have the serenity and delicacy of objects in Asian prints; others, like a series of eggs, look like pop art.

—John Mutter, PW Daily Online for Booksellers, 2002

Selected Bibliography

Mark Feeney, “Weighed Down by Past Burdens”, The Boston Globe, (October 3, 2009)

Eve M. Kahn, “Biblical Marginalia: Zeva Oelbaum photographs the doodlings of scriptural scholars”, NextBook Reader, (Spring 2008)

Jeannie Rosenfeld, “How One Artist Found Inspiration in the Margins of Ancient Hebrew Books”, The Forward (June 29, 2007)

Johanna Ginsberg, “Photographer Makes Art of the Scribbles Others Left Behind”, New Jersey Jewish News (March 29, 2007)

Vince Aletti, “ShortList”, The Village Voice (November 12, 2003)

Dan Bischoff, The New Jersey Star Ledger (October 29, 2003)

Foto & Video, Moscow (2003)

“Victorian Flower Journal Rediscovered,” The Caledonian Record (June 27, 2003)

“Books by Jay Gardner,” Picture (January/February, 2003)

Jane Gottlieb, “Out of the Blue,” Photo District News (February 2003)

John Mutter, “Book of the Day: Blue Prints by Zeva Oelbaum”, Publisher’s Weekly, on-line (November 6, 2002)

Hilarie M. Sheets, “Say It With Shadows”, ARTnews (Summer 2002)

Valerie Sudol, “Rooted in a Victorian Past”, The New Jersey Star Ledger (March 3, 2002)

Rebecca Sawyer-Fay, “Our Regular Roundup”, Gardener (May/June 2002)

Julie Cole, “A Garden of Reading”, Southern Accents (January/February 2002)

Cynthia Clark, “The Book-Sideline Hybrid”, Publisher’s Weekly (February 25, 2002)

“100-year-old Flowers Bloom in New Book”, The Herald of Randolph, Vermont, on-line (March 7, 2002)

“Summer Salon”, The New Yorker (August 13, 2001)

“Air Conditioned: Interiors”, The New Yorker (August 21, 2000)

Vince Aletti, “Air Conditioned: Interiors”, The Village Voice (August 22, 2000)

Irene Brenton, “Zeva Oelbaum: Photographer”, Professional Women Photographers (Fall, 2000)

“Like Father, Like Daughter”, Woodstock Times (March 29, 2000)

“Photography Annual”, Communication Arts (August 1995)

“Contributors,”, Self Magazine (June 1992)

“Photography Annual”, Communication Arts (August 1989)

“International Photography”, published by the Eastman Kodak Company (1989)