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Regarding Emma
Butterfly Bush, Chicago (2002)

Melissa Ann Pinney »

Regarding Emma

Exhibition: 9 Jan – 14 Feb 2004

Catherine Edelman Gallery




Regarding Emma
The Real Live Barbie at Target (1998)

For more than fifteen years, Melissa Ann Pinney has been concentrating on female identity and its layered construction. From childhood through puberty, from motherhood into old age, Pinney has focused her camera on the ever changing identity girls face as they mature. The culmination of her efforts can be seen in her recently published book, Regarding Emma: Photographs of American Girlhood. As Pinney states in the foreword to her book, "The photographs in this book are based on my experiences growing up. Raised as a Catholic with five brothers and two sisters, I learned early on that girls had to fight for most everything: to get and keep one's share, for credit and recognition, to state one's view of things...when I found the courage to articulate my views, it was by way of wordless photographs that depict precisely what has often been considered insignificant in the domestic, social or cultural sphere... taking the wedding ritual as a starting point, the pictures in this series look ahead to older women, then back to girlhood to see how our dreams and expectations of women are made visible; how feminine identity is constructed, taught and communicated between mothers and daughters." Melissa Ann Pinney peels away the layers society has placed on women, exposing joy, triumph, contemplation and growth. These qualities can be seen in numerous images including a photograph of three young girls posing for the camera in a public pool dressing room shower, their stance one of acceptance combined with timidity; a young bride, arms akimbo, surrendering to the help of her mother and friends as they help dress her for her wedding; a group of adolescent girls climbing a tree, two immersed in conversation as the others negotiate the task at hand; toddlers standing on a platform as finalists in the Little Miss Coppertone contest, one yawning, one attentive, one fidgeting and the other limp with fatigue. These photographs expose the emotions girls experience as they grow from toddlers into women, mothers into grandmothers. Melissa Ann Pinney received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1991, an NEA in 1987 and Illinois Arts Council Grants in 1989 and 1987, among other awards. Her work is included in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY), The Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY) and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Regarding Emma
Bat Mitzvah Dance, Chicago (1993)
Regarding Emma
Kanaha State Beach, Maui (2000)