Melanie Craven of Tilt Gallery | Interview by Nancy McCrary

May 2014



France Scully Osterman and Mark Osterman, photogenic drawings, archival inkjet prints


1. Tilt is approaching its tenth anniversary and has recently relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, from Phoenix. Tell us about what prompted your move, and what we might look forward to in the next ten years in the new location. 

Melanie Craven: Tilt Gallery was first envisioned as a shared lab and exhibition space. Within the first few months Tilt become a dedicated exhibition space based on the need in our community for a gallery to support this very small niche of artists. It was our passion to keep hand-applied processes alive by supporting contemporary artists working in the field. We made our own opportunities to show many talented artists who are the best in their field to our photographic community. Later as we became well known for our specialization in hand-applied photographic processes, we slowly began to include other hand-applied works of art including some mixed media fine art. One of our major goals was to better support our artists, increase sales for them and provide better exposure. We are happy to say that almost two years ago we made a move from Phoenix to Scottsdale and we are growing and doing more for our artists than ever before. We still have more we want to do like promote our photographers in some of the prominent art fairs and increasing our online presence. For us we are always looking to the future for new opportunities and potential markets.

Angela Franks Wells, photogravure

2. Tilt is one of this country’s foremost galleries for historic and alternative processes. Tell us about how you decided to focus on this specific genre and the image-makers you represent. 

MC: My twin Michelle and I have always been interested in photography as a device in which we could capture a moment or memory. We received our BFA in Photography at ASU in 2004 specializing in the photo-mechanical processes. During that time we began to think of the camera as a tool for expressing our perceptions and the hands-on photo techniques we choose to work in as a mirror of the tool. After graduating we wanted to somehow continue our journey making images while at the same time creating an art community; that’s when Tilt Gallery was first conceived. We aimed our exhibitions towards highlighting emerging and established artists who were leaders in the field of hand-applied processes today. This in turn took us to representing many of the top contemporary image makers. For us it is not always about the process; we look for artists whose work is strong in concept and image, and the process they choose to work supports these strengths.

Brenton Hamilton, cyanotype

3. Photography, and galleries in particular, felt our recent recession deeply. What do you think we can take away from that experience in a positive manner – change in focus, realignment of priorities? 

MC:Working during a time of recession we continued to constantly promote our artists while educating our patrons and clients. This has always been our highest priority as gallery owners. Marketing and promotion are extremely important in times of recession, often for business owners it is the first place that is cut. We also reinforce the value of the work we represent by educating our clientele on the artists’ process and the skill needed to create each print. We give our patrons artist information to take home and often follow up with an email regarding interests expressed while visiting our gallery. To further support our artists we work with local museums and other galleries to create events that include lectures, demonstrations and workshops, drawing attention to our photographic community.

Joy Goldkind, platinum/ palladium

4. You and your twin sister are the founders of Tilt Gallery and are also photographers, tell us about your photographic series Identical Otherness. 

MC:Identical Otherness stems from our curiosity about perceptions, similarities and differences. Being identical twins, our work explores the uncommon and yet uniquely common perceptions of our life experiences. Because of our “twinness” we have had the opportunity to encounter and experience our uncommon and yet uniquely common perceptions. Themes involving personal identity, similarity and difference, and the manifestation of unexplained happenings, provide a conceptual framework for our imagery. Being identical twins, we are also “mirror twins” meaning one is right handed and the other is left. Growing up, and even to this day, our experiences follow one first then the other. Whether we are photographing individually or together the mystery and value of photography for us is its ability to communicate what might be uncommunicable through any other medium.

All the photographic work we do always brings us back to our concept of the Otherness.