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Jane Frances Aaron

 (1948 - 2015)
Jane Frances Aaron was active/lived in New York.  Jane Aaron is known for Children's book illustration, animation, filmmaking.

Jane Frances Aaron

Biography from the Archives of askART

Following is The New York Times obituary of Jane Aaron.

Jane Aaron, a filmmaker and children’s book illustrator who brought young viewers the letter “X,” the numbers 1 through 20 and other lessons in dozens of instructive animated shorts on Sesame Street, died on June 27 in Manhattan. She was 67.

The cause was cancer, her husband, Skip Blumberg, said.

Ms. Aaron’s animated films have been shown in museums around the world, but her work found its widest audience on Sesame Street, the groundbreaking and popular children’s education program that has been broadcast on PBS stations since 1969.

Mixing live-action footage with animated images, Ms. Aaron’s signature letters and numbers sprouted from streets, park benches, playgrounds and rooftops in almost 200 animated shorts for Sesame Street, including many Elmo’s World segments.

“Jane dreamed up many innovative techniques — before the age of computers — to bring inanimate objects to life,” said Christopher Cerf, her collaborator on Sesame Street and on another PBS program, Between the Lions. Ms. Aaron used identical fiberboard numbers sawed off in different places and stop-action photography to show numbers growing up out of the sidewalk. To illustrate the concepts of front and back, she and the stop-motion animator Joe Laudati presented cutouts of three yaks dancing as ballerinas on a three-dimensional stage. To demonstrate the concepts of jam-packed and empty, she sent chirping chickens charging into a room through a door and a window, only to retreat just as swiftly.

In another segment, she made a series of letters out of leaves, blew them apart with a leaf blower and, when the film was shown backward, whisked them back together to form the letters being taught.

“I would always know we were on the right track with a film when she would laugh while pitching an idea,” said Carol-Lynn Parente, the executive producer of Sesame Street.

Ms. Aaron’s work was also featured on MTV, Nick at Nite and the Learning Channel. She and Mr. Cerf, a songwriter and author, collaborated on childhood learning programs for the Success for All Foundation and co-produced “The Animal Alphabet Singers” for Think Smart Games. In 1986, a number of her whimsical short films were shown as part of a New American Animation program at Film Forum in Manhattan.

Jane Frances Aaron was born in Manhattan on April 16, 1948. Her father, Sam, was a founder and chairman of Sherry-Lehmann, the New York wine merchant. Her mother, the former Florence Goldberg, was a geriatric therapist.

Ms. Aaron graduated from the High School of Music and Art (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts) and received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Boston University. She later received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for filmmaking.

In addition to her husband, with whom she lived in Manhattan, she is survived by her son, Timothy; her mother, Florence Aaron; two brothers, Peter and Andrew; and a sister, Lisa Aaron.

As a children’s book author, Ms. Aaron wrote and illustrated the series “When I’m ... ,” which addresses unsettling emotions children may experience. (Titles include When I’m Afraid, When I’m Angry, and so on, with a parents’ guide by Dr. Barbara Gardiner.) Ms. Aaron adapted the books for an animated film series for HBO Family, for which she also recently completed six shorts called Just Wondering.

Ms. Aaron collaborated with the writer Oralee Wachter on two film and illustrated book projects addressing the sexual abuse and abduction of children: Close to Home and No More Secrets for Me.

Ms. Aaron ranged from Death Valley in California to Lake Placid, N.Y., to shoot live-action footage, on which she superimposed her animations. In her short film Remains to Be Seen, for example, shown at the Film Forum program in 1986, Ms. Aaron supplied missing elements to deserted settings. “An animated panel passing over a bare table may offer glimpses of a meal there, for instance,” Janet Maslin wrote in The New York Times in reviewing the series, “or put a jogger on a deserted beach or a person in an empty chair.”

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About  Jane Frances Aaron

Born:  1948 - Manhattan, New York City
Died:   2015 - Manhattan, New York City
Known for:  Children's book illustration, animation, filmmaking