I use self-portraiture to explore the construction of meaning; to usurp and/or subvert the subject/author power relationship inherent within the photographic medium.
— Millee Tibbs
You are a recipient of the Vassar’s Weitzal-Barber Art Travel Prize; where did you travel with this grant? How did the trip change your views as an artist?
That grant was very important to both my formation as an artist and as a person. I traveled to the Hispanic Caribbean and met with several dozen artists, visited their studios, and met with museum and gallery directors. What I had planned to be a few months trip in the Dominican Republic turned into an over six year sojourn. I think that experience taught me how to be an artist: how to make work regardless of the situation, and how to improvise.
At what point do you generate the titles for your works? Are they inspired by the images or vice versa?
The titles for my work are usually generated in tandem with the work itself. What comes first depends on the series. In “Self-portraits,” the image and title are mutually exclusive—one can’t exist without the other. In “This is a picture of me,” the images themselves dictated their titles. It was whatever was written on the back of the snapshot. In more recent series, like “Proof of Union,” the title (the exact date and time the image was taken) is an added piece of information that points to the evidentiary nature of the photograph.
What is something people would be surprised to discover about you?
In 1987, I was the Alabama Hunter Jumper Association’s State Champion in “Equitation Over Fences.”