Jeanne Anderton

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Jeanne Anderton says that her parents were photography buffs who encouraged her to take pictures from a very early age.

Jeanne Anderton:
"They gave my brother and I cameras. I think my brother was six and I was eight. Dad had to travel for work. But he always took us so there was a vacation to where he was going. He worked for Green Giant. So if he had to go to the west coast, we had a vacation going out to the west coast."

"So, Mom and Dad gave us a little box camera that I still have. It used 620 film. We had so many rolls of film. You had to use them sparingly. And I joke because I say, looking back, I thought I had all these great photos. You know. We went to Mount Rushmore, and Grand Tetons. And then I realized that my brother and I probably took more pictures of the chipmunks and the squirrels in the parking lot. And, the photos are mostly the parking lot. And there's a tiny little squirrel in there some place. They're horrible. They're horrible."

"But they kept giving us film. So, they encouraged us. Both Mom and Dad were photographers. So, yeah, they inspired us."

Jean got her bachelor's degree in art education at Salisbury University. She ran a photography shop and has been teaching photography at Salisbury University. Eventually a colleague recommended she get her master's degree so she decided to do so at Syracuse University in New York. Jeanne believes that each leg of that journey is an important part of her development as an artist. She says that commercial photography and fine art photography compliment eachother well.

Jeanne Anderton:
"What you learn to see in which ever field, you can transfer to the other. So some of the technical things you have to apply in the commercial field: lighting, or just being business like; certainly applies to the fine art field. And that creative process that you have as an artist should not be neglected in the business world or in the commercial side."

"So that ability to put that subtle nuance, or to make something look very good for a client, or helping your clients to see another side of something that they are trying to promote, that's the creative side. And as an artist you have be kind of a businessman, because if you want your stuff to go out you've gotta promote, and make invoices and contracts, and all this stuff. So, I think they go hand in hand."

"The pleasure is in making it and not necessarily from saying: "I have to make money from it." But there is also a pleasure of sharing it and having another one look at your work and interpret your work. It's like writing a book and never showing it to anyone. You know, I don't want to make art in a basket and never show it to anyone and just keep it under the basket."

Jeanne's fine art work has a classical feel with dramatic lighting and compositions of classic arrangements of still life flowers and fruit. But they usually have an unusual twist, something unexpected. Some of the works are shocking in the way they communicate difficult messages about society. Still others are powered by a sense of whimsy. All have a breathtaking beauty touching on archetypes of art history.

Jeanne Anderton:
"Looking through Renaissance and Baroque art, a couple of the photos you are referring to an almost photographic representation of what the painting is, but just using children's toys versus a person. What was it? Venus and Mars has Barbie and Ken maybe. I think there is one that has Star Wars storm troopers and things like that."

"There's already a layer of story and I am just retelling it with a different modern context. The intent is not to really to say good bad or indifferent. But maybe it is a sort of whimsy but it seems mockery to some but to others they may say: "Well yeah. Yeah. Instead of a Holy Ghost figure it's a storm trooper. And the reality is that's what a lot of our movies are like anyway. We're just retelling the same stories with a different medium."

"Traveling will change your world. Traveling will change your world. And so, I went to Italy. I've always loved Caravaggio. I say I love Caravaggio and Vermeer because they're so photographic. And, I admit. They're pre photographic, but for me they're very photographic. So, the lighting and chiaroscuro in Caravaggio; it's just there for us to enjoy."

"So, yes there was that classic style and reference in that series, makes reference to seeing the actual work. And being absorbed visually, it becomes a part of you too. And photography is about light. Without light you don't have a photograph. So, why not use it to direct the viewer's eye and make their paying attention to little things."

"I had a teacher who always said you should always include a nerdy. (Laughs) And he's so right, you know? If you look at something perfectly perfect, then it isn't as exciting as if you go: "Oh, oh, oh!" You know, there's that flaw that all of us can embrace because none of us are perfect."

Both the art of photography and that of teaching draw Jeanne into community with others where delightful things happen.

Jeanne Anderton:
"It's like this little clubhouse. You're in the dark. It's not totally dark. And it's communal. You're around this series of trays of chemicals. You're throwing your paper in. And it's magically coming up. And other people are watching your work and you're watching their work. And there are conversations that take place. So it's not a solo event. It can be a very solo event. And, I love printing in the dark room by myself. But there is also that communal event, if you kind of want to share that experience with others. That happens as well. I say it is a great clubhouse."

"I love teaching so I really don't work. And you can tell that I kind of like what I do. So sharing that, and opening the door so that others can have that same kind of experience is pretty exciting. I'll look at a friend of mine who is also a teacher and we will recognize the when the light bulb goes on (in a student) and we'll say "We just got paid!"

Jeanne leads an annual trip to Europe where students can see the origins of photography as an art form in London and Paris. You can see her work at her website: or at the annual faculty show at Salisbury University where she teaches.