About the Photographer
Pinney, Melissa Ann
American, b. 1953
Melissa Ann Pinney photographs the everyday lives of girls and women to illustrate the complex transformations in feminine identity. As part of the Changing Chicago Project in the late 1980s, Pinney photographed crowded social situations that often serve as rites of passage, such as wedding receptions, middle school dances, and trips to the beauty salon. Quiet, intimate portraits of mothers and their daughters also are heavily represented in her early work.
Since the birth of her daughter in 1995, Pinney’s work has evolved to include more personal imagery. Continuing on the theme of women and children, the series Regarding Emma (1990-2003) and Cellar Door (2001-) explore the impact of youth and girlhood in a woman’s life. In Regarding Emma, Pinney was influenced by her own experiences growing up as she photographed young girls, as well the daily life of her daughter as she changes through the years. With ongoing the Cellar Door series, Pinney photographs Emma periodically against the same backdrop of their backyard, marking her gradual transformations into maturity.
Pinney was born in St. Louis in 1953, and holds a BA from Columbia College Chicago (1977) and an MFA from University of Illinois Circle Campus, Chicago (1988). She is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1999), a National Endowment for the Arts, Midwest Regional Fellowship (1987-88), and a total of four grants and fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council (1989, 1987, 1981, 1980). Her photographs are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson, Arizona; Museum of Modern Art, New York; and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, among others. Formerly an instructor at IIT's Institute of Design and the Art Institute of Chicago, Pinney has taught at Columbia College Chicago since 1984.