Melissa Cacciola studied fine art and the historic preservation of art at Columbia University and New York University. Trained by the legendary John Coffer, she specializes in tintype and 19th century photographic processes. Using a large format camera and a 19th century Darlot lens, Cacciola hand-makes each tintype from the photographic emulsion to the lavender and gum sandarac varnish.
Tintyping is an unforgiving medium that requires technical and aesthetic artistry and knowledge of its historical and chemical background. Although conversant with other types of photography, Cacciola uses this historic process to create powerful portraits that haunt us as specters of our imagination, nostalgia, and the past. The long exposure time needed to make a tintype transposes the sitter’s gaze as he or she must remain completely still for nine to twelve seconds—the constraints of the tintype medium here redefine our notions of what it means to photograph and be photographed. Melissa has worked with various communities to tell their stories, including the United States military, the Mohawk ironworkers, New York artists, and New Orleans Brass Band musicians.
Solo exhibitions featuring her portraits have included the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the Steven Kasher Gallery, the Alice Austen House, New Orleans' famed Preservation Hall, and the Customs House in Sydney, Australia. Melissa’s work has been published in The New York Times, TIME Magazine and TIME LightBox, NPR, and Newsweek. She is also the recipient of several grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the New York State Department of Cultural Affairs, the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, and the New Orleans’ Jazz and Heritage Foundation. Melissa is based in Brooklyn, New York.
Cacciola is represented by the Steven Kasher Gallery of New York. For sales, please contact Steven Kasher at 212-966-3978.