Tommi Cahill

Associate Professor
Art Department

Tommi Cahill as a child

Areas of Expertise

  • Photography


M.F.A. Yale, Photography, 2006

B.F.A. Cal Arts, Photography /Media, 2004

Expert for the Media

Subject and research experts are available for news media interviews and to provide expert commentary on a broad range of topics. Contact Media Relations at 909.748.8857 or by email at


P: 909.748.8822


Themes of my work range from gender and sexuality to perception.

For two years during my graduate studies at Yale University I rented a room inside a fraternity house. I was the only woman in residency. Everyday I would awaken to the aftermath of senseless acts of destruction and find a newly transformed house from the night before. At any and all hours of the night they would summon me to rise and make photographs of themselves running through the halls naked or lighting things on fire. I was constantly amazed to find that no matter what their background or breeding they were still utter slobs, temporarily afflicted with amnesia regarding anything to do with decorum. Yet, oddly, throughout all of this mayhem I found that there was an underlying true love and intimacy the boys shared with each other--underneath all of their bravado they could be vulnerable and deeply caring individuals. In turn the biggest surprise was that these man-children were, somehow, coming into their own. Forging their way to become the leaders of tomorrow.

My current work has been driven by the fascination of the human spirit and the lengths one will go to for their dreams. Limelight, a portrait series, provides an intimate look at background actors who are pursuing their dreams of cinematic acclaim in an unforgiving industry. These Tinseltown workers come from all stations of society -- from wealthy adventurers to ex-cons -- but all of them are hoping to be "discovered," hoping to hang in there until they get that "big break." But, ultimately, it is often about the perusal of dreams that are all too often unrealized. Though extra work is a means to an end, it is not an easy one with up to 16-hour days and minimal compensation. The stark reality is that vocation is not invariably a fruitful one.

Currently I am working on a candid narrative photographic portrait series about the unexpected pageantry of the world around me. I am looking and thinking about the ways in which people interact and cope with others as well as objects, landscapes, animals and the inevitable solitude and struggle with self.

Courses Taught

Beginning Photography

Intermediate Photography

Digital Imaging

Advanced Senior Projects

Portrait Photography



Long Beach City College, Long Beach, CA

Art 80 Elements of Photography

PHOT 281AD - Photography Lab

PHOTO 291AD - Advanced Photography Lab


Saddleback College, Mission Viejo, CA

Beginning Photography


Chaffey College, Rancho Cucamonga, CA

Beginning Photography


Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

Gallery Teacher, K-12 tours, Programs, and Teacher Professional Development


Yale University School of Art, New Haven, CT

Teaching Assistant to Phillip Pisciotta, Intermediate Photography


Yale University Summer School of Music and Art

Art Division Teaching Assistant to David Hilliard, Beginning Photography


California Arts Partnership, Valencia, CA

Teaching Assistant to Darrel Walters, Beginning Photography, 14-18-year-olds 


FABRICA-The First Ten Years, 2007

Espace Croisé 1994-2006, 2006

Yale 2006 MFA Photography GYST Press, New Haven, CT 2006

Fabrica Nick and Me. Tommi Cahill artist in residence, Documentary 2004

Work is included in the collection at the Yale University Art Gallery

Awards, Honors, Grants

Richard Benson Prize for Excellence in Photography, 2006