“The narrative of her photographs extends beyond a picture or a series of pictures to create a greater context for the artist herself within photography, womanhood and the African American experience.”
~ The Historymakers
On July 9, 1951, a baby girl was born to John and Elizabeth (née Hunt) Moutoussamy in Chicago, Illinois; they named her Jeanne. Elizabeth, whose family hailed from Arkansas, was an interior designer. John, who was of New Orleans and Guadeloupe, worked as an architect. An only child of passionate and accomplished professionals who were involved in the art and science of design, Jeanne was naturally exposed to their work. Inspired, her interests in drawing, painting and photography were encouraged by her parents.
When she was only eight years old, the Moutoussamy parents enrolled Jeanne at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she began her formal training in painting. In “Behind the Lens: Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe” by Joseph Montebello for BerkshireStyle.com, she described her parents’ belief and active support of her. In the article, she shared, ““My father was an architect who had studied with Mies van der Rohe and my mother was an interior designer. They instilled in me an interest in design. From the time I was eight years old, they sent me off to the Chicago Art Institute every Saturday. My mother would put me on the bus – same driver every week – and he would deposit me at the entrance. Those visits encouraged my creative thinking and helped to develop my creative eye.”