JON KOLKIN (American b. 1951-)



For nearly 40 years, Jon Kolkin has been working tandem in the art of science and the art of photography. His interest in photography began at an early age while “experimenting” in his father’s dark room. He managed to combine his medical career and traveling around the world as a medical volunteer with photography projects. 

Now retired, Jon devotes himself to working full-time as a professional Fine Art photographer and teaching medicine to physicians in underserved countries.

Each of Jon’s bodies of work tends to focus on social topics that invite dialogue, understanding and mutual respect between people with different points of view.  He is a frequent lecturer on topics such as “Maintaining relevance within our lives” and “Finding a healthy balance between our professional and personal lives’”.  

His captivating images have won numerous awards and have drawn the attention of private and corporate collectors worldwide. Jon’s artwork has also been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions around the country and in many prominent photography magazines.  He is a founding artist of the Maine Museum of Photographic Arts.

Many of Jon’s bodies of work tend to focus on social topics that invite dialogue, understanding and mutual respect between people with different points of view.  Most currently he has embraced Buddhist Monks in Bhutan and China. The first series on this subject was called “Seeking Wisdom”, a project he started after spending 6 weeks in the only Buddhist Kingdom in the world, Bhutan, situated high in the Himalayan Mountains. Following this thread and the incredible relationship he developed with the people of Bhutan, the “Inner Harmony” series was conceived while Jon was working in a small, (by Chinese standards) frenetic, Chinese city of 8 million called Wenzhou. When Jon originally scheduled his trip to Wenzhou, he was planning to photograph Buddhist monks for the first series, “Seeking Wisdom”, but after seeing that the temple was actually Buddhist Nuns, he decided to create a whole other series that complemented his prior efforts.

This series, which began in 2011, has grown to a collection of rare and intimate photographs of Buddhist monastics and laypeople from 10 Asian countries.
Jon's book, including many images from this decade long projectInner Harmony: Living in Balance, was recently released by one of the world’s leading fine art book publishers, teNeues. This groundbreaking project includes forewords by the Dalai Lama and Queen Mother of Bhutan. The book just received the International Photography Awards’ Silver Medal for documentary books by a professional photographer.

Jon is also involved in numerous compassion-centered initiatives including the ongoing Shades of Compassion international traveling museum exhibition which includes pieces from the Inner Harmony series which are exhibited alongside works by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Joyce Tenneson, and others ( He spearheaded the North American summit, Fostering Compassion and Universal Ethics through Museums.

This gathering brought museum professionals to India for a conference and private audience with the Dalai Lama. He also helped create the documentary film, Man of Compassion: Stories of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, which included participation by three US presidents.

"It is my impression that many people navigate through life in overdrive.  They are perpetually in “catch-up” mode, losing sight of their core values and priorities with little time devoted to self-reflection. It is my hope that my art will serve as a vehicle, which invites the viewer to step back, take a deep breath, and reconnect with himself or herself.  Each series is intended to open a dialogue about issues that I feel are integral to the process of living life, eyes open.  It is my hope that people will find my art, and its underlying messages, useful as they seek purpose, wellbeing, and fulfillment in their lives."




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