Jennifer Hannaford is a forensic scientist and an emerging contemporary artist based in New York City. Her underwater series demonstrates a fantastically refreshing new talent – marrying superb technical drawing and painting skills, with her profound understanding of the human form.
In an effort to get in touch with her innate artistic side, Jennifer began her art career with a series of mug shots created entirely with her own finger prints. She recently expanded her subject matter and style to include the underwater series.
As a forensic scientist, Hannaford experienced some of the harsher realities of human nature. Her art allows her to explore beautiful moments of the living experience frozen in time on canvas; life, ascension, and balance. Using sensibilities that were born out of her professional training in forensic science, she understands how the body feels and reacts underwater. When we look at her representational work – we can easily relate it to our own life experiences.
Born in Placerville, California in 1968, Jennifer Hannaford received a Bachelor of Forensic Science from California State University of Sacramento in 1994, and a Masters in Biomedical Forensic Science from Boston University in 2013. As a result of her studies, Jennifer understood that recovered latent fingerprints could potentially be used for the purpose of art authentication. Fascinated by this combination of art and science, her thesis focused on the recovery of fingerprint detail from the imprimatura (foundational) layer in paintings. Hannaford continues to explore this unique science while she pursues a full time painting career.
Adelman Fine Art is pleased to represent Jennifer Hannaford and share her talent with collectors worldwide.
AFA: Your artist career began by creating celebrity mug shots using your own fingerprints. Tell us about what motivated you to explore painting with oils in your Underwater Series.
Jen: “Painting in oils was always a goal of mine. I was teaching my niece to swim about twenty years ago. Watching her underwater with bubbles and weightlessness was a moment I wanted to capture on canvas, in color. Five years ago, I jumped in to some weekend classes when I moved to NYC. I have poured myself into the pursuit and developed this series over the past few years.”
AFA: Do you foresee another evolution in your art style or subject matter?
Jen: “Oh yes! What that is, I cannot entirely picture yet. I think that will evolve and I welcome the journey. My hope is to take advantage of the many wonderful instructors in the city, view the art that hangs on our museum walls, and continue to develop a style uniquely mine.
I want to develop a style such that when someone looks at my work, whether it is a painting of a jelly donut or a portrait, the viewer knows, ‘That is a Jenny Hannaford!.’ I want that ‘thing’ that is all my own! That takes growth, a lot of paint, and many hours. I am still at the beginning of that, and that is the fun part.”
AFA: Tell us about one of the most interesting forensic cases you’ve worked on…
Jen: “I usually do not talk too much about specific cases out of respect for family and victims. Yet some of my favorite cases have been cold cases reopened and solved by forensic examiners armed with new technology. One tool is our Automatic Biometric Identification System which houses the known fingerprints of individuals. Evidence prints can be searched against this database with identifications returned in cases where suspects are not known.
To speak of the power of fingerprints and some cases in general, there are cases that have involved identical male twin and sexual assault (I actually worked one). The recovered DNA profile can be typed, but one cannot say which twin is the perpetrator because they share the same DNA. At least it cannot be differentiated through our forensic typing methods. However, even identical twins have different fingerprints. We all do. Even though the DNA might lead an investigator in the right direction, it has been left to fingerprint comparisons (if they are at the scene) to identify the proper suspect.”
AFA: If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not, living or dead, real or fictional, with whom would it be?
Jen: “Oh too hard. Too many people. If I could just for a week walk in the shoes of some of our civil rights heroes and know their courage and conviction while facing so many challenges. That would be something.
I cannot choose just one, so for now I will choose an artist. Henrik Uldalen. When I look at his art, my heart…it just beats faster. His live painting demonstrations are what I would imagine a beautiful piece of music looks like.
And if I am Uldalen for only a week, that guy better be busy in the studio! I want to soak up all that knowledge and let work it through my own fingers when I get home!”
AFA: What song best describes your work ethic?
Jen: “For so many reasons- John Denver’s ‘The Eagle and the Hawk.'”
AFA: What happened in your last dream?
Jen: “It was awful. I had a dream last night that I was in a production where I had to get up on stage and sing, by myself. I was terrified. I woke up right before I got on stage. I would rather have the dream where I am followed by snakes. Way less scary.
I hate public speaking! And singing in public, alone? Forget about it.”
AFA: In keeping with our current exhibition…where is your favorite place to swim or enjoy water?
Jen: “I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time in Queensland, Australia, snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef. It was better than any theme park! In fact, some of those visions may show up in my art one day.”
AFA: Who is the most famous painter whose work you have performed or analyzed the forensics?
Jen: “These cases are few and far between. Yet, I have seen some cool things! I am currently working on a potential Picasso. The challenges of art authentication through friction ridge detail work lies in the procurement of known prints (from the artist) to compare the “unknown” print from the piece of art under examination. That often leads one on a trail to examine other known works of art that may contain fingerprints of that particular artist.”
AFA: You use photography as a reference for your paintings. Please tell us about this process and any interesting stories about photo shoots.
Jen: “My nephew, Miles Hannaford, is a professional photographer and has taken most of my reference photographs for me. He has done such a wonderful job. Out of thousands of shots sometimes you find only a handful that captures a moment that I may want to translate into a painting. My models are family and friends. While many of these painted scenes are quite relaxed, these wonderful people are often in the pool for hours. It is a lot of fun, but they work hard! I have such tremendous gratitude for those who have been helping me out and have believed in me. It has been a group adventure of sorts.”
AFA: We’ve hung your artwork for almost all of our exhibitions since we’ve opened. What has been your favorite Adelman Fine Art exhibition?
Jen: “The photos to art exhibit. I had a blast looking at some of the inspirational reference shots from other artists. See where they took an idea to a completed piece of art. The talent! Well, I am so lucky to be with my fellow artists at Adelman Fine Art.”
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