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Melissa Ferrari is a magic lanternist who creates contemporary performances rooted in the history of traditional magic lantern phantasmagoria and scientific lantern lectures.  She specializes in creating handmade animated slides based on historic designs.  Her performances include experimental documentaries, collaborations with musicians, and traditional phantasmagorias.  Melissa's feature lantern show Relict: A Phantasmagoria won the 2023 Dick Balzer Award from the UK Magic Lantern Society and the Red Cabbage Award from the Magic Lantern Society of the US & Canada.   


Melissa has performed lantern shows at venues including the Ann Arbor Film Festival, REDCAT Theater, Hauser & Wirth, Antimatter Media Arts Festival, the Philosophical Research Society, ArtYard, Cosmic Rays, Chicago Underground FF & Cucalorus.  She has been commissioned to create site-specific lantern shows at the Larry Spring Museum of Common Sense Physics in Fort Bragg, CA and the Heritage Square Museum in Los Angeles.

Melissa is available for collaborations/commissions and to travel for lantern performances.  She frequently introduces her shows with a historical lecture and demonstration of antique slides.  Melissa is also an educator who can offer lantern slide and animation workshops to accompany her performances. 

Please email to book a lantern show.


May 4, 2024 | Bob Baker Marionette Theater | Los Angeles, CA

April 21, 2024 | The Philosophical Research Society | Los Angeles, CA

April 11, 2024 | Exploratorium | San Francisco, CA

April 4, 2024 | UnionDocs | New York, NY

March 27 & 29, 2024 | Ann Arbor Film Festival | Ann Arbor, MI

February 23, 2024 | Bob Baker Marionette Theater | Los Angeles, CA

January 13, 2024 | San Diego Underground Film Festival | San Diego, CA

Check back for future announcements

Handmade Magic Lantern Slides

Melissa creates handmade magic lantern slides based on antique slide designs, including animated slip slides, rackwork slides, tank slides, and dissolving views.  The images are hand-drawn in pastel, gouache or ink, printed on large format transparency film, and mounted in acrylic and wooden components.  The wooden slide parts are designed in Adobe Illustrator based on historic designs, striving to preserve the traditional magic lantern visual language, and laser cut in birch or walnut.

A look at the process for creating lantern slides, documentation of Artist Residency at the Camera Obscura Art Lab in Santa Monica, CA.

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