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Cress Thibodeaux

Graduate Student, MFA Program

Portrait of Cress Thibodeaux, standing behind a camera


Curriculum Vitae
  • MFA, Screenwriting, Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe
  • Tribal Law, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • MFA, Film Directing, Columbia University, Manhattan
  • Associate's Degree, Photography, Glassell School of Art, Houston
  • BFA, English/Dance, University of Texas, Austin

My photographic journey commenced at the age of eighteen when my father gifted me a Pentax K1000. He, a musician who once performed alongside Harry Belafonte, instilled in me the belief that "We are the songs we sing." I've come to believe that I am the images I create. Photography has become my instrument for comprehending the world I inhabit, a means of introspection and self-expression. My artistic practice draws inspiration from a diverse range of luminaries, including Dawoud Bey, Hendrik Kerstens, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Bruce Jackson, Barbara Kruger, Cara Romero, and filmmaker Chris Smith.

Being a Tribal member of the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Tribe of Chippewas, Native American issues have significantly influenced my creative path. My work began to intersect with these vital concerns in 2000 when I documented the Dann Sisters' fight for their land and followed them to Washington, D.C., capturing their journey alongside their legal team. My passion for Native American issues also led me to law school, where I documented our debate team's travels across the country as we competed against other Native students.

As a proud member of the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Tribe of Chippewas, Native American issues have been a driving force behind my artistic journey. My commitment to highlighting these important matters began in 2000 with the Dann Sisters, courageous advocates fighting for their ancestral land rights. Their inspiring struggle led me to Washington, D.C., where I documented their journey alongside their legal team, using my lens to capture the essence of their fight.

My dedication to Native American causes extended beyond photography. I embarked on a journey through law school with a focus on Tribal law, simultaneously documenting the experiences of our Native debate team as we traversed the nation, competing against other Indigenous students. This dual perspective allowed me to uniquely blend my legal insights with my artistic sensibilities, enriching my creative vision.