When I'm in jail arrested on these two counts of jury tampering, they finally take me to the doctor so that I can be seen by my obgyn. And in the appointment, they do the ultrasound… I'm in handcuffs and shackles with an armed guard on my side and an armed guard outside of my door, and the obstetrician comes over and moves the handcuffs out of the way and does the sonogram and two hits pop up on the screen. And all I could do was burst out into this loud joyous cry… And as I laid there, in that cell in total solitude, I heard something that I had never heard before: it was the pounding of my heart. And I thought to myself, that as long as I got, as long as I got life in me… then I'll deal with whatever I have to deal with.
My artistic practice modulates among photojournalism, cultural documentation, personal and daily life, and constructed realities, all in an effort to tell stories of underrepresented communities in New Orleans and beyond.
To tell Fox Rich’s story, I pulled from my fact-driven skill set that I learned as a journalist. After listening to one interview and then conducting another, I reinterpreted three of the most important events from Rich’s experiences with mass incarceration, a system she likens to slavery. My initial visualization was to stage an exact recreation of those moments. After deep consideration, I used constructed realities to more fully convey Rich’s emotions over the duration of her family’s combined two-plus decades of imprisonment, and reuniting with her husband, Rob Rich. For me, using constructed realities allowed a freedom to explore, investigate, and recreate factual events or issues that are not permissible in news.
Jessika Thibodeaux portrays Fox Rich, and Myron Thibodeaux as Rob Rich.
(Top to bottom) The Gift of Freedom and Justus; The Prison Transport Trade; Freedom Day: A Boundless Love, 2018