Melissa Ann Pinney

Melissa Ann Pinney


Melissa Ann Pinney

I’ve always been interested in watching people. I wonder what their story is, who they are to each other. My mother was acutely aware of other people and she was quick to share her thoughts. Her observations were sometimes biting, sometimes funny, always insightful. That must have been where I first learned to pay attention to the world around me, to see with lucidity, the way my mother did.

For thirty years, I have dedicated myself to a photographic exploration of emerging feminine identity. Images from this exploration are informed by my own girlhood and that of my daughter, Emma. These images look ahead to older women, then back to girlhood to see how our dreams and expectations of women are made visible.

The photographs my current project, Chicago Public Schools, bear witness to inner city public schools, providing a vision of the students’ fierce & fragile world, informed by moments of spontaneous play, self-presentation and gesture. I never know what the children will do next; their beauty, their conflicts, their compassion are unrehearsed. 

When I discovered photography it became both my way of seeing and commenting on my observations all at the same time. For me, making pictures begins with the desire to find what light and time can reveal, through attentive observation of the world. I’ve found this to be a richer and more surprising source of imagery than anything I could invent.

 – Melissa Ann Pinney, April 2020






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