CRESSANDRA THIBODEAUX GOT INTO ART while working on a 1956 Chevy with her uncle, Nelson, who was part of a well-known motorcycle gang in Detroit. After buying the Chevy, Cressandra and her uncle, who was in a wheelchair, rebuilt the car in a way that he would be able to drive it.
Thibodeaux says that her uncle was the only true artist in her life. He influenced her to go to school for urban development, specifically for people who had disabilities.
“I was an artist, but I was raised with someone in a wheelchair in the seventies where there was nothing,” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux was born in New York City and moved to Houston in 1981. After attending the High School for Performing and Visual Arts and spending her summers at the San Francisco Ballet School, she received a full scholarship to attend the University of Texas.
Thibodeaux said that her grandmother was the only person who ever expected her to achieve anything in her life. Her grandmother told Thibodeaux she would get married, her kids would be educated and go to good schools. “So, find a good husband basically,” Thibodeaux says.
That isn’t what Thibodeaux did though.
After receiving her MFA from Columbia University’s film program, she became an award-winning filmmaker.
Thibodeaux runs a local film academy called 14 Pews, which opened almost a decade ago. 14 Pews is an artist-run nonprofit that strives to engage and challenge their audience through visual arts, film and theater.
“The goal was to create a community of where you connect to community and to connect to a creative community,” Thibodeaux says.
Thibodeaux has since reopened 14 Pews after temporarily shutting down during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also plans to partner with various organizations. Creating the organization is one thing Thibodeaux is most proud of because it brought her and her mother closer.
Because of Covid-19, Thibodeaux realized that she welcomed isolation, but was glad when it changed. During the pandemic, Thibodeaux became her mother’s full-time caregiver, after she got Covid-19, and ended up in the emergency room several times.
Additionally, Thibodeaux notes that another thing she's proud of is her time at Pre-Law Summer Institute for American Indians and Alaska Natives. It's an experience she's working with in her art. As of today, Thibodeaux is developing a show about tribal law where she is able to use the knowledge she learned during her time at law school.
“I'm just a creative spirit, but it was a great education. It pushed me in many ways, but that PLSI was the best. It was incredible. The people I met there are incredible,” Thibodeaux says.
“I would like to be remembered, or think that I have been successful, by having good friends and close friends,” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux's photos and writings throughout her career have appeared in publications such as the New York Times, LA Weekly, Houston Chronicle and more.
“My art has always forced me to interact with people in a much more rewarding way,” Thibodeaux says.
Thibodeaux says she would love to create a body of work that enriches people’s lives in some way. She is currently working on a variety of projects including a musical called, “Songs of My Father."
“You know, you always want your work to sort of either make them laugh, or make them feel more comfortable in their own life,” Thibodeaux said.