Melissa Cacciola studied fine art and historic preservation of art at Columbia University and New York University. Her specialties are tintype and nineteenth-century photographic processes. For her project War and Peace Cacciola uses the tintype process to display portraits of active duty military and veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Marines. Each person is photographed in his or her military uniforms and in their civilian clothes. Then the two images are displayed as a diptych. The project explores the ideas of war, identity and culture.
By using the tintype process, Melissa Cacciola is making a gesture to history and the beginnings of portraiture. This process is appropriate for these images because not only are they portraits, but the backgrounds are neutral in all of the images, so we can focus solely on the person in the image. Exploring the idea of military identity is very interesting to me. It is clear from these images that there is more to each person than their role in the military. It is interesting to see their two sides of identity right next to each other.