Interview: Photographer Michelle Massey/Omeeomi, UMMA/Tiny Expo Award Winner


Michelle Massey/Omeeomi

Omeeomi, we have a winner!

Tiny Expo has become an annual tradition for the Washtenaw-area arts and crafts community, and the juried artists who exhibit their works often leave the downtown Ann Arbor District Library brimming with dinero from all the sales.

But this year there was a chance to take home some bonus bucks.

For this year’s event, which was held December 10, the Tiny Expo/UMMA Store Vendor Contest allowed patrons to cast votes for their favorite artists, with the prizes being:
-- 3rd place: $20 gift card to the UMMA store
-- 2nd place: $30 gift card to the UMMA store
-- 1st place: Select products by the winning artist will be featured and available for sale at the UMMA museum store for 6 months.

The top 3 vote-getters were then vetted by Nettie Tiso, manager of the UMMA store, who chose which artist would get to sell his or her works at the museum.

And this year’s winner is ... [drumroll] ... [really long drumroll] ... [now the drummer is doing a jazz solo, so this may take a while] ... [security breaks the drumsticks and escorts percussionist out of the building] ...

Michelle Massey, a Ypsilanti-based photographer who calls her company Omeeomi.

We talked to Massey about her art and photography in the interview below:

Michelle Massey/Omeeomi

Town squares.

Q: How do you pronounce your company name and what’s its origin?
A: Omi [oh-me] is a childhood name I gave myself and so I pronounce Omeeomi "oh-me-oh-me," however, I never correct others who may pronounce it "oh-me-oh-my." I like the ring to that just as much!

Q: How do you describe your photographic process?
A: I print photographs and mount them onto wooden blocks and plaques. I take a picture -- sometimes more -- a day and turn them into small pieces of art. Each photo is unique and local to the area.

Q: It looks like you're making tangible Instagram photos. Is that the inspiration?
A: You are correct, I take tangible Instagram photos. I've always enjoyed taking pictures, capturing moments in time. Instagram is a handy outlet for me to present them and share them with others. This year I participated in a 366 Days project where I post one photo daily. I love having all the photos in one venue where I can reference back and see my progression as an artist.

Q: Is there something special about the mounting techniques -- the varnish used, the wood type, etc. -- that help enhance the photos?
A: My favorite photographs I print and mount with decoupage -- I adore decoupage -- to square stained pine boards. A dark stain, I feel, gives a nice contrast to the images. The wood allows the photograph to gain substance without being trapped by a traditional frame. Most of my work is presented on the wood boards, however, I also print some images on magnets and cards. The 366 Days project has allowed me, this year, to print a calendar as well.

Christopher Porter is a Library Technician and editor of Pulp.

To see more of Massey’s work, visit her on Instagram or Facebook.