Melissa Stallard received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from East Tennessee State University in 2003 and Master of Fine Arts in photography from Columbia College Chicago in 2008. She is currently an Associate Professor and Photography Area Coordinator at The University of Akron, Mary Schiller Myers School of Art. (2009 – present)

Melissa’s ongoing work examines the cultural landscape throughout the Southeastern and Midwestern parts of the United States. Her work has been exhibited nationally including solo exhibitions at Shepherd University, in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, Radford University in Radford, Virginia, and Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Most recently, her photographs have been featured in The Oxford American’s Eyes on The South, Looking At Appalachia, and as part of FotoFilmic’s International Traveling Photography Exhibition.

This Land...

2014 - present

The photographs within this series reflect the values, beliefs, and attitudes found in towns across the post-industrial Midwestern & Eastern regions of the United States.  These places have seen their share of hardship, as economic downturns and shrinking populations have left them with few traces of their former prosperity. The built environment and its artifacts are reflective of the life and culture found here. Traditions of faith, love of country, and pride in hard work are deeply rooted in these communities. I try to give viewers the opportunity to discover an aspect of contemporary America that is generally overlooked by the mainstream media


Why the University of Akron? 

Our school is exclusively undergraduate with approximately 500 students and offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts Studio degree and Bachelor of Arts degrees with emphasis areas of Studio, Art History, and Art Education. The BFA students can choose an emphasis area in photography, printmaking, graphic design, painting/drawing, sculpture, metalsmithing, or ceramics.

The photography program has two communal black and white darkrooms, one for introductory students and one for advanced students. Each has fifteen enlarging stations and dedicated film processing areas. There is a state-of-the-art digital lab with sixteen color-calibrated, dual-monitor work stations, virtual drum film and large-format flatbed scanners,  and a dedicated printing facility. The lighting studio equipped with a variety of strobes and soft boxes to meet a variety of photographic needs from fine art to commercial applications. The students have access to a print finishing room which provides an area to dry mount, retouch, trim, mat and/or frame finished photographs for exhibition or critiques.

What courses do you teach? 

I teach three courses each semester ranging from introductory to advanced level darkroom and digital courses as well as a professional practices class that helps prepare our students for a career after graduation. While it may not sound exciting to teach a young artist how to write a grant application or to do taxes, I think it’s one of the most important courses our program offers. 

How does your program bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary photographic practices? 

Students gain both darkroom and digital skills during their first two years of study. They’re encouraged to use a variety of methods to create their work.

Describe the process of output for photographs.

Our students are required to print images for all critiques. Our advanced darkroom has equipment capable of enlarging 4x5” negatives and making silver gelatin prints up to 20x24”; the digital facility has a variety of large format printers making prints up to 44” possible.

Describe the critique format. 

Every photography class has biweekly critiques. Typically, only students enrolled in a given course are present; occasionally, an alumni or working photographer will join to offer a different perspective. We also have an outstanding visiting artist program; the students are fortunate to have one-on-one portfolio reviews with our guests.

Where can we keep up with your photo department online?