From travels and work in more than 60 nations, it’s only natural that John Elliott pursues his photographic vision on a global scale. He has a Fine Arts degree in Photography from Ohio University, minors in International Studies and Spanish, and received advanced studies in Arabic at Harvard University and in Media Production at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. Elliott was a diplomat with the U.S. State Department for nearly 11 years, a U.S. Army photographer, a photojournalism teacher at The Art Institute of Atlanta, and was for more than 15 years the creative director for an Atlanta area advertising agency.
Elliott, whose influences include the medieval paintings of Hironomous Bosch and 20th century photography of Robert Frank and Henri Cartier-Bresson, began his photography career even as a teenager as a freelance newspaper photographer. During college semester breaks, he completed assignments for Revista Geomundo as a magazine photojournalist in Guatemala and Mexico.
In early 2011, Elliott received a Congressional commission to begin serving as a Foreign Service officer and diplomat with the U.S. State Department. He received five assignments and three details of increasingly critically important positions in South America, the Middle East, and Washington D.C. These included Senior Regional Policy Office in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues (2019-20), with responsibilities for the Western Hemisphere; Spokesperson for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Office (2020-21); Vice-Consul at the U.S. Consulate General in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil, 2011-13); Press Attaché at U.S. Consulate General Jeddah (Saudi Arabia, 2014-16); and Morocco Desk Officer (2021). In addition to his native language of English, he is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish and conversant in Arabic and French.
Prior to his diplomatic service, he founded AidWEST Humanitarian Missions, in which he led three teams to earthquake-stricken Haiti in 2010. He also was president of the Greater Atlanta Interfaith Alliance for five years in the ‘90s, which furthered his understanding of diverse cultures and philosophies. In both his creative output and volunteer work he strives for “the goal of universality, tolerance, compassion and human bond.” As a U.S. Army Reserve corporal in Military Intelligence from 1987 to 1992, he was assigned to a PSYOPS unit at Ft. McPherson, Georgia.
Although Elliott began working on individual images for “The Human Pulse” more than three decades ago, it wasn’t until 2007 that the series actually debuted, at Atlanta’s famed Callanwolde Gallery. The seminal and ongoing series encompasses images of human diversity and social issues from around the world. He started working on the “Walls/Spaces” Series – also ongoing – in the 1980s. It captures highly idiosyncratic visual vistas, extracting character from carefully composed interpretations.
His images from a briefly-worked series, “Victims,” have appeared in national magazines and in galleries in NYC, Ohio, Miami and Atlanta. And his scenic, commercial and portrait images have garnered international awards for more than 25 years. Elliott’s most recent fine arts series, “Ghost Riders” (2016-2020), is perhaps his most technically diverse opus, and documents passengers on public transportation in the Washington, DC area.
His expositions have been in South Florida, New York City, Ohio, Georgia, South America, and the Middle East. A seminal international exposition of both The Human Pulse and Walls/Spaces was his 2013 solo show at the Academia Brasileira de Letras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where the 72 prints received critical acclaim during an extended period of two months.
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