Clayton Anderson is a photographer and advertising art director who lives and works in New York City.
This year his circus work was shown at the Florida Museum of Photo- graphic Arts (FMoPA) in Tampa, FL. and the SE Center for Photography in Greenville, SC. Prior to the onset of the pandemic, Anderson was working on The Burlesque Project which is a documentation of the vibrant burlesque scene in New York City.
An on-going project is Anthropomorphia, a series of still lifes created during the pandemic which capture a range of emotions, explicit or implicit, in found, anthropomorphic objects.
Kicking Sawdust, published by Daylight, is his first monograph.
This is Lorette, the tattooed lady. My stepmother Sharon and she would do their laundry together at a local Laundromat. Lorette would wear long pants and a long-sleeved sweatshirt that completely covered her tattoos. It would transform her into a just another sweet grandmother doing her laundry like everyone else.
This is Tanya the elephant and Raul her caretaker. In the mornings before showtime Raul would walk her out to a tree in the middle of a nearby field to snack on some fresh leaves.
This poodle act was called “The Fabulous Darnells”, three sisters who look remarkably alike.
This is Tino Wallenda of the famous circus highwire family and troupe, The Flying Wallendas.
Clayton Anderson was living the life of a 19-year-old, had secured a funky apartment near the water in Miami Beach, was waiting tables and hanging out with friends, when his life took a decidedly atypical turn. The courtyard payphone rang and his father on the other line said he needed to come help the family run their cinnamon roll concession with the travelling carnival. At the insistence of his artist friend Jack Pierson (who contributed the book’s introduction), Anderson bought a camera and documented the years he was on the road between 1988 and 1992.
The resulting book of 75 black and white photos, Kicking Sawdust: Running Away with the Circus and Carnival, doesn’t glamorize, it humanizes. While not the everyday experience for most, the collection of images normalizes the day to day existence of life on the road.
When daily life is shared—-with anyone, in any context—this intimate kind of knowing facilitates the forming of a kind of family. Perhaps existing in just that one dimension, perhaps for only that specific time and space in one’s life; but seeing people first thing in the morning, trading chores, witnessing the range of emotions humans navigate in daily life, familiarizes and connects.
This Baboon was the Sideshow’s mascot.
This is Petey with a Python on a stage in front of the Sideshow. He was trying to entice the locals to go inside the tent to see the sideshow acts. Petey was very shy. I never heard him speak a single word.
This is “Red” the sword swallower. The first time I ever tried Moonshine was with Red, late, after hours in the closed carnival. It packs a punch.
This is “The Human Torch.” He would light himself on fire and then dive into a pool of water below him.
Book Details: Paper over board; ISBN-13: 9781942084921; 128 pages; 75 black and white Photographs; 10 x 8 inches; $45 US; $58.99 CAN.
Daylight is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing art and photography books. For more information, visit www.daylightbooks.org.