Born in 1916 in New York City, Rebecca Lepkoff has made it the centerpiece of her long career in photography. After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1938 at the City College of New York, she participated in a National Youth Administration photography program from 1939 to 1941. About 1945 she joined the Photo League, and for the next four years attended its classes, studying with Paul Strand, among others, and also exhibiting her work in the League’s group shows. In 1947 she established a photography school at the Educational Alliance.
Lepkoff ventured beyond New York City in her work, notably to photograph village life in Oaxaca, Mexico. However, she is best known for her images of New York and its people taken during the 1940s and 1950s, especially of Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side. She also photographed that area’s Hispanic residents in the 1950s and during the following decade focused her camera on the effects of pollution on a river in Vermont.
Janet Wilson, National Museum of American Art, 1995