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Millee Tibbs

Artist Statement: 

I am interested in surfaces and their relationship to what lies beneath – the discrepancy between what we see and what we know. I am drawn to photography because of its ubiquitous presence in our culture and its duplicitous existence as both an indexical representation of reality and a subjective construction of it. It is a slippery medium that easily shifts from scientific documentation of a moment in time to a subjective construction of reality. I am interested in the space where these qualities contradict each other and coexist simultaneously.  The two series that I present here explore the desire to make the imaginary real and the drive to organize the arbitrary.  


In the series Virgin Land, Wyoming, I constructed prosthetic unicorn horns that I then fitted onto horses at a ranch resort in Wyoming. The strapped on and detachable horns reveal their construction and deny the possibility of believability. The idea of the unicorn departs from its traditional representation as fantasy and presents itself as antiheroic, exposing the seams in a human fabrication of nature. Like the Western landscape that they inhabit, these creatures are corralled and domesticated. The idea of the American West constructed through cinema, literature, and heroic painting is as much as an artifice as the fantastical unicorn.


The series Constellations is an attempt to impose a system of order onto an arbitrary set of markings, the moles on my body. In the summer of 2009 I was diagnosed with a melanoma on my upper right thigh.  In that moment, my relationship to my skin changed.  The moles that covered my body became a sinister reminder of the potential for my body to turn against me.  My largest and most visible organ became a site of observation and anxiety.  Like astrological configurations, these constellations take a grouping of unrelated points and unite them inside a shape that gives them a narrative and a new meaning.  



Millee Tibbs (b.1976) is an artist residing in Detroit, MI. She holds an MFA in photography from RISD. Tibbs has exhibited at places such as Blue Sky Gallery, Portland Center for Art Photography, Oregon; Notre Dame University, Indiana; Mary Ryan Gallery and Winkeman/Plus Ultra Gallery, both in NY; and at both the Museum of Modern Art and Spanish Cultural Center in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Her work is currently held by the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR; the Pierogi 2000, Brooklyn flat file and is a part of the online database at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum and was published in the Humble Art Foundation's Collector's Guide to Art Photography Vol. 2. She has been a fellow at The MacDowell Colony, and an artist in residency at Jentel, the Wassaic Project and the Santa Fe Art Institute.  She currently teaches at Wayne State University.

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