Melissa Catanese Lecturer

MFA, Cranbrook Academy of Art
BFA, Columbus College of Art and Design

Melissa Catanese works from an inventory of photographic images, both personal and anonymous, to build elliptical narratives that take their shape as artist’s books and wall installations. Her work explores the elasticity of meaning in a photograph; where the object is both an artifact of the past and an open-ended container of ambiguity and potential. She has been editing from the vast photography collection of Peter J. Cohen, a celebrated trove of more than 30,000 vernacular and found anonymous photographs from the early to mid-twentieth century. Enfolding photographs from her archive with these found images, she questions the authorship and transparency of a photograph while pursuing readings that drift away from simple typology into something more personal, intuitive and openly poetic.

Her work has been included in the Mulhouse Biennial of Photography, No Found Photo Fair in Paris, and at venues such as Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco, Aperture Foundation in New York, and Cleveland Museum of Art. She has been awarded grants from BNY Mellon, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She is the founder of Spaces Corners, an artist-run photography bookshop and project space and is the author of  Dive Dark Dream Slow (2012), Dangerous Women (2013), Hells Hollow Fallen Monarch (2015), and Voyagers (2018).


Office: 227 Frick Fine Arts Building

Courses Taught