Artist Profile: Tess McMillan

tessTess McMillan has been attending Bellevue College since 2009, with a two year state-funded scholarship to study art. She is very passionate about ceramics and photography. I like to shoot in total darkness and to experiment with different light sources to build complex images.” She has created the gallery exhibit posters many students see around campus and she is also the student gallery staff in charge of communications.

She became involved with art after attending Bellevue College, and now she has a better interpretation of what it means to be an artist. When she was younger, she thought she had to be born as an artist to become one. Before she started studying art two years ago, she did not view the world the way she does now. McMillan hopes to use her art in some way in her future, but she is still trying to figure out exactly what she will do with it.

1. Who are you influenced by? What is your inspiration?

Impressionists influence me a lot in the type of art I am doing. Van Gogh is a Dutch painter and I was influenced a lot by his work. My inspiration is my surroundings. When I was younger, I believed that you were born as an artist and it wasn’t until I started studying art here that I realized art is a process and you learn from what is around you. I use my dog and my garden most often as subjects for my photography.

2. Out of all the art you have done, which is your favorite? Why?

My favorite art is anything I have done working with someone else. I helped Susan Gjolmesli, Head of the Disability Resource Center, learn how to shoot a camera. Since Gjolmesli is blind, it was exciting for me to teach her since she couldn’t see the pictures she was taking.

3. How many years have you been involved in art?

It wasn’t until I came to Bellevue College that I really became passionate about art. I have been doing ceramics for 1 ½ years and photography for 2 years. This isn’t including the number of art classes I have taken outside of school.

4. Have you received any recognition for your work?

I was blessed with getting a two year scholarship to study art here at Bellevue College. I have not yet received awards or recognition for my work, but I helped Gjolmesli win awards for her work of art. We submitted three pieces to Lighthouse for the Blind and she won third place.

5. What does your art mean to you?

My photography is about personal expression. I use my own environment and the things I really know intimately, such as my garden and my dog. I have taken tons of art classes, and the way I express myself now is different. Artists are capable of telling things that happen in the environment that we don’t see.