Joel Anderson (b. 1964) is a Pennsylvania-based artist who explores the overlap between past and present.
For the Slave Dwelling images he photographs former slave cabins which are still standing, some restored and some derelict, primarily using an 8x16” film camera. The silver gelatin prints are then illuminated using bleach and toners to visually communicate the sense of their history. This project has expanded to include Underground Railroad stops and black homesteaded towns like the Dearfield colony remnants in Colorado.
In Home/Land he examines the small, remote, Pennsylvania valley where he moved as a child and later returned as an adult, after living in California and the southwest. His mother used to joke that the valley was like the 18th century, with a small population of Pennsylvania Dutch and surnames that went back centuries. In the period between his departure for college and returning in his 30s the valley shifted even more out of time, with a large influx of Amish. Home/Land is slowly exploring this old and somewhat odd community and how things have changed. The new reality is a mix of Amish assimilating with the longtime population while new industries are also shoehorned into the community, and how the landscape and towns have altered or stayed the same.
The Hard Coal project is an offshoot of Home/Land and documents the last independent anthracite miners in the valleys here. Their world has changed on a dramatic scale as coal fades away while their entire culture and community is built on the mythology of the miner. COVID changed the economy even more and the younger generation, who would have followed into the mines, have gone on to less physical and more stable employment.
Apple Pickers is a new project photographing farm workers primarily from Mexico who seasonally work in the apple orchards of Pennsylvania. Farmers have turned to these workers, here on H-2A visas, for labor after being unable to find enough American workers.
The Sanctuary project is one of his few not involving history. This documents the caregivers at sanctuaries and the various animals who have been rescued. Donations from the sale of the images go to the originating sanctuary.
He regularly exhibits at juried art shows throughout the US.
Selected Awards, Exhibitions, and Publications:
- Center Forward exhibition, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins Colorado, 2022. (Jurors: Alyssa Coppelman and Christy Havranek)
- Guide to Photographic Alternative Processes: Popular Historical and Contemporary Techniques
by Jill Enfield, Second Edition, 2020; image from my Slave Dwelling portfolio included
- Washington Post, October 2017: photography from my Hard Coal project included
- Narratively, December 2016: photography from my Hard Coal project included
- Royal Photographic Society, International Photographic Competition, Bath, England 2014
(Jurors: Tim Rudman, Lewis Blackwell, Caroline Hyman, Roy Robertson)
- Selected for the New York Times Portfolio Review, NYC, NY 2014.
(Reviewers: James Estrin, NY Times;Amy Wolff, PDN; Alison Nordstrom.)
- Solo exhibition, Hard Coal, Hoyt Center for the Arts, New Castle, PA 2014
- Slave Dwelling Project Exhibition, Charleston, South Carolina 2014 (juror: Joseph McGill)
- Hoyt Center for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Juried Exhibition, New Castle, PA 2013
- Portraits Exhibition, Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, Colorado, 2013 Juror: Charles Guice
- First Prize, Photography: Art of the State', State Museum, Harrisburg, PA, 2012 (juror: Catriona Fraser)
- Black & White Photography, Photoplace Gallery, Middlebury, VT 2011
- Merit Award (Landscape/Nature), Black & White Magazine, Single Image Contest 2011
- Semi-finalist, Hasselblad Masters, Copenhagen, Denmark 2008
- Yosemite Museum Gallery, Yosemite, California Fall 1998
- Grand Prize, Natural World Photography Competition, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 1994