Joseph E.B. Elliott


B.S. University of Minnesota
M.F.A. Pratt Institute



Joseph Elliott is Professor of Art at Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pennsylvania, and an Adjunct Instructor in the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania. Elliott specializes in photography of historic industrial and architectural sites. Over the past twenty-five years he has received numerous commissions from the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, University of Pennsylvania, and many private clients. His work is in the collections of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Library of Congress, and several museums and universities. His photographs have been published in Common Ground, Smithsonian, Wired, and Metropolis, as well as several books.



My work resides at the nexus of documentation and art. Documentation implies a process in which information is objectively recorded, analyzed, cataloged and communicated. It is a clear-eyed, detached, non-judgmental approach. For many, art implies sentiment, romance, interpretation and representation for high emotional impact. In my experience art and documentation are not mutually exclusive, lying instead along a continuum. I attempt to make work that contains elements of both. My influences include the cool approaches of Walker Evans, Bernd and Hill Becher, and Charles Sheeler, as well as the formal virtuosity of G. B. Piranesi and the luscious intensity of W. Eugene Smith.

I apply my practice to the recording and representation of the built environment, particularly historic urban and industrial subjects. I am attracted by the material qualities of wood, metal, stone, and brick, and the formal qualities of structure, both utilitarian and aspirational. I want to reveal the function, beauty and wonder of what people have created.

I choose to work with photographic materials because visual information can be so quickly and richly collected. I prefer a mechanical image-making device. The mental process of separating the image from the tyranny of easy verisimilitude is a constant and engaging struggle.  




1981 M.F.A. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn NY.

1972 B.S. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis MN



Professor of Art, Muhlenberg College, Allentown PA, 1983-present

Adjunct Lecturer, Historic Preservation, University of Pennsylvania, 2006-present


Publications: Monographs

2017 Elliott Joseph E. B., Popkin, Nathaniel, and Woodall, Peter, Finding the Hidden City, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, PA (forthcomming)

2016 Wunsch, Aaron and Elliott, Joseph E. B., Palazzos of Power: Central Stations of the Philadelphia Electric Company, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, NY

2013 Elliott, Joseph E. B., The Steel, Photographs of the Bethlehem Steel Plant, 1989-1996 Columbia College Press, Chicago, IL, distributed by University of Chicago Press


Publications: Articles and Catalogs

2011 "Photography in Heritage Research: In Search of Digital Standards for Image Capture, Image Processing, and Image Delivery," by Elliott, Joseph E. B. Change Over Time Vol.1, No. 2 (2011), University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA

2010 “Temples for the People: Largess for Learning at Philadelphia’s Carnegie Libraries,” edited by David Andrews, photographs by Joseph Elliott, Common Ground, National Park Service, Washington DC, Spring 2010

2009 “Preserving Philadelphia’s Carnegie Libraries”, Sabra Smith, CRM: The Journal of Heritage Stewardship, National Park Service, Washington DC, Summer 2009. (cover photograph)

2003 ”Fleeting Streets: The Plight and Promise of North Philadelphia”, Brian D. Joyner, photographs by Joseph Elliott, Common Ground, National Park Service, Washington DC, Fall 2003

2002 Silent Witness, Quaker Meeting Houses of the Delaware Valley, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Philadelphia, PA (exhibition catalog)

2002 “Meltdown”, text by Richard Martin, photographs by Joseph Elliott, WIRED, San Francisco, CA Feb.2002

2001 Architecture, Engineering, and Industry: American Genius 1759-1950, by Louis Bergeron, Harry N. Abrams, New York, NY, and Editions Hoebeke, Paris

2001 “Images du Patrimoine Industriel des Etats-Unis”, LA Revue, No. 19, Musee des Arts et Metiers, Paris, France (exhibition catalog)

1997 “Saving American Steel", text by Doug Stuart, photographs by Joseph Elliott, Smithsonian, Washington, DC, August 1997

1995 "Bethlehem Searches for a New Heart", Barbara Flannigan, New York Times, New York, NY, 12/21/1995

1994 "Encountering the Machine", Technology Review, M.I.T., Cambridge, MA, February, 1994

1992 Light in Bethlehem, Lehigh University Galleries, Bethlehem, PA (exhibition catalog)

1991 "Memoirs of Steel", Barbara Flannigan, Metropolis, New York, NY, Nov. 1991

1987 Stated as Fact., New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ (exhibition catalog)


Solo Exhibits

2013 "Western Clay Manufacturing Co.", Holter Museum of Art, Helena, MT

2010 “Joseph E.B. Elliott: Bethlehem Steel Portfolio 1989-1997”, DuBois Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

2010 “In Exchange for Gold”, Martin Art Gallery, Muhlenberg College, Allentown PA

2009 “Hidden City”, website:

2008 “Palazzos of Power”, Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

2003-06 Travelling exhibit: “Acres of Diamonds: Architectural Treasures of North Philadelphia”, State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, PA, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, Community College of Philadelphia

2000 Ericson Gallery, Philadelphia PA

1999 "End of an Era", Zoellner Gallery, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

1998 Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Altoona, PA

1997 Haverford College, Haverford, PA

1996 "State of Steel", with Martin Desht, Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading PA

1993 "Forged Steel", Muhlenberg College Gallery, Allentown, PA

1991 Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA.


Group Exhibits

2015 “100+: A Photograph For Every Year of Mia”, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN

2015 “Revisiting South Bethlehem, 150 years of Photography”, Lehigh University Galleries, Bethlehem, PA

2015 FOCUS! II: Photographs from the Lafayette Collection, Lafayette College, Easton, PA

2013 "Oxidation and Interpretation", Santa Bannon/Fine Art, Bethlehem, PA

2004 “Traveling the Lincoln Highway”, Westmorland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA

2003 "Seven Visions", MCS Gallery, Easton, PA

2002 “Silent Witness, Quaker Meeting houses of the Delaware Valley”, Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

2001 Joseph Elliott and Phillip Perkis, William Patterson University, Wayne NJ

1998 "Archeologia Industriale Degli Stati Uniti", Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology, Milan, Italy

1997 "Images du Patrimoine Industriel des Etats-Unis", Musee de l'Homme et de l'Industrie, Le Creusot, France, Musee des Arts et Metiers, Paris, France

1983-97 "Pennsylvania Photographers", Allentown Art Museum, Allentown PA (five exhibitions)

1994 Gomez Gallery, Baltimore, MD

1991 "Work on Paper", Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA

1990 New York Transit Museum, Brooklyn, NY

1990 "Stated as Fact", New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ

1989 Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

1986 Alan Klotz Photocollect Gallery, New York, NY

1982 Nikon House, New York, NY


Fellowships, Grants, Commissions

2015 Commission from Historic American Building Survey, US Department of Interior, to photograph hospital complex and landscape of Ellis Island, NY

2013 Class of 1932 Research Fellowship, Muhlenberg College

2013 Commission from HIddenCityPhiladelphia to provide site exploration photographs for Hidden City 2013, a multi-venue arts festival, June 1-30 2013

2008 Commission from Peregrine Arts, Inc. to provide site exploration and installation photographs for Hidden City 2009, a multi-venue arts festival in Philadelphia

2007 Commission from Historic American Building Survey, US Department of Interior, to photograph 23 Carnegie Libraries in Philadelphia

2002 Grant from The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago, IL for the project “Palazzos of Power”

1990-2003 15 commissions from Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record, US Department of Interior, to photograph architectural and engineering landmarks across the USA

1991 Class of 1932 Research Fellowship, Muhlenberg College

1991 Grant from Delaware and Lehigh Canal National Heritage Corridor Commission to support Class of 1932 Research Fellowship

1982 New York State Creative Artists Program Services Grant for photography



Architectural Archives, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA

Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA

Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA

Johnson and Johnson Inc., New Brunswick, NJ

Haverford College, Haverford, PA

Lafayette College, Easton, PA

Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

Library of Congress, HABS/HAER Collection, Washington, DC

Photographic Archives, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, MN

New York Transit Museum, New York, NY

Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Loretto, PA

Leo Steinberg, New York, NY

Paul Walter, New York, NY