Our next Artist You Need To Know is Ruth Kaplan.

Ruth Kaplan (born 1955 in Montréal) is a Canadian “documentary-based photographer whose work explores a variety of themes such as the social behaviour of bathers in communal hot springs, congregants participating in rituals of spirituality, and, most recently, refugees living in shelters along the Canadian-American border as they await decisions on their pending status. Her work integrates still photographs and video.” (from the Stephen Bulger Gallery)

She is perhaps best known for her extensive project Bathers : in this series she photographed people bathing in public spaces around the world, exploring ideas of privacy and intimacy as well as the larger issue of the body in public yet personal discourses. The artist’s words : “There’s something about the way people relax in those environments that’s unique to their other identities.”

Kaplan often works in series, and these include bodies of work like Some Kind of Divine and Migrations. People are at the centre of her photographs, and their stories are sometimes more dramatic and sometimes quieter and more contemplative. The communication of the experiences of her subjects is paramount : in Some Kind Of Divine Kaplan shows us “Toronto and Halifax parishioners caught up in moments of religious contemplation, ecstasy and healing. Their wider theological context seems beside the point: her subject is intimate human moments of release and surrender.” (from here)

The images below are from Kaplan’s Bathers series. A publication of this work was published in 2017.


She has an MFA from Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University, School of Image Arts, 2010) with a focus on documentary media, and a BA (Applied Arts) from the same (1981). Kaplan also attended Concordia University as an undergraduate, exploring photography and painting.


The images below are a selection from Kaplan’s Some Kind of Divine project.


Kaplan has been awarded grants from the OAC (Ontario Arts Council) and the Canada Council. Her work is included in the collections of the Ryerson Image Centre, the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Library and Archives Canada, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts collection, Montreal, Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, City of Toronto Archives, Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the Canada Council Art Bank.

The images below are from The Crossing, from the larger project Migrations. More of that entire series can be seen at Kaplan’s site : If Your Name Appears, Freedom House, Status Pending, After Roxham Road and 17 Pieces.


More of Ruth Kaplan’s work can be seen here, and a more detailed listing of her many accomplishments can be seen here. Kaplan is represented by Stephen Bulger Gallery, and they have an engaging site about her work here, as well. The most recent issue of PhotoED Magazine has a feature on Kaplan’s work, as well, focusing upon her Bathers series.