Jeanette May: Tech Vanitas

Arts & Museum Exhibits

October 21, 2021 to November 23, 2021

The Gallery at Penn College

New Image


Jeanette May's Tech Vanitas still life photographs embrace the anxiety surrounding technological obsolescence. As widely observed, we live in an age filled with devices that make domestic life faster, easier, and more complicated. Consumers choose from an astounding number of tech products. The more we yearn to keep current—the smartest watch, camera, speaker, computer, phone—the more we produce, consume, and discard. Cutting-edge technology becomes outdated, embarrassing, collectible, and finally, antiquated or forgotten.

May’s photographs cleverly reference 17th Century Dutch vanitas (still life paintings) and their air of craft guilds, international trade, and personal wealth. At the same time, her carefully disheveled compositions of stylish objects allude to product photography and advertising imagery. From vintage clocks to virtual reality headsets, the assembled gadgets suggest the passing of time. Finally, these photographs reflect a nostalgia for anachronistic technology and a desire for the latest enchanted objects.

Jeanette May received her MFA in Photography from CalArts and her BFA in Painting from the University of Illinois. She has received awards from the NEA Regional Artists’ Projects Fund, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Illinois Arts Council, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, and Ms. Foundation. Her work is exhibited internationally. May lives in Brooklyn, NY.






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