Alexa Meade

I like Alexas mixed media combination of paint and photographs.

“In some ways, artist Alexa Meade is a traditional figure painter. But she works on an unusual canvas: the actual human body. And she takes a classical concept — trompe l’oeil, the art of making a two-dimensional representation look three-dimensional — and turns it on its head. Her aim is to do the opposite, to collapse depth and make her living models into flat pictures.” PBS

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“…you can find the strange in the familiar. As long as you’re willing to look beyond what’s already been brought to light, that you can see what’s below the surface, hiding in the shadow, and recognize that, there can be more there than meets the eye.” – Alexa Meade
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“Everything in the scene: the person, the clothes, the chairs, the wall, gets covered in a mask of paint that mimics what’s directly below it. And in this way, I’m able to take a three-dimensional scene, and make it look like a two-dimensional painting.”
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Alexa Meade takes an innovative approach to art. Not for her a life of sketching and stretching canvases. Instead, she selects a topic and then paints it–literally.
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Meade applies acrylic paint to the surfaces of people, objects, and walls in a style that mimics the appearance of brushwork in a traditional painting. The three dimensional scene may be approached from multiple angles and still appear to be a flat painting through the lens of the camera, without the guise of Photoshop or digital effects.
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An associate Director of the National Portrait Gallery stated, “I was so thrown by it. I thought I knew what I was looking at, but I didn’t,”Meade calls attention to the expectations of representational space in the picture plane through displacements in medium and “grapples with the heady conceptual terms at stake between painting and photography”.

Alexa Meade working (6) Alexa Meade working (4) Alexa Meade working (2) [Source: TED / Image: AlexaMeade.com]

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The effect of the optical illusion is striking. “Many of the images make it nearly impossible to find visual evidence of the secret their construction”.
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What remains is portraiture in triplicate. “A photo of a painting of a person, and the real person hidden somewhere underneath.

alexa meade4 Alexa Meade living paintings lebende kunstwerke malerei Galileo man green Alexa Meade living paintings lebende kunstwerke malerei Galileo blue girl side alexa-meade3 alexa meade5

 

Alexa Meade and Sheila Vand’s “Milk: what will you make of me?

​​Alexa Meade and Sheila Vand have collaborated on a body of work that explores the fluidity of form in relation to time and space. By stripping the subject of depth and dimension, a displacement of identity ensues, demonstrating the power of context over content.​

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ALEXA // SHEILA mounted live performances of “MILK: what will you make of me” at Galerie Ivo Kamm in Zurich, Switzerland on August 30 and September 1, 2012

Meade’s signature style of painting portraits on the body is submerged in a canvas of milk, where Vand’s performance is dictated by the opposing forces of fixed shadows and fluid space. Together, the artists compose an expressive identity for each image, but as the milk interacts with the pre-arranged pose, a new identity is formed that must be constantly re-imagined and re-shaped in the moment. As the paint seeps away into the milk, Vand’s performance must continually shift to accommodate its new context and form while Meade’s photography must capture the ephemeral moments before they de-materialize. The result is an ever-evolving, time-based portrait that includes every layer of the process within each consecutive frame. Each new visual identity is a product of the versions that came before.

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Filling the canvas

The surface of the milk intersects Vand’s body at an uneven and unusual plane, creating a sense of movement and depth beneath her compressed form. This play on dimensionality in the picture plane evokes an optical illusion that activates the viewer’s experience by challenging their common perceptions. The identifiable becomes ineffable, giving the flat photography of the painted three-dimensional space an unsettling tone. By blending the borders between the subject and its surroundings, identity is muted and we’re left with the distilled nuances that shape the space.

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Performance
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Sheila Vand recites the monologue while painting herselfwhite

What will you make of me?

the first step in transformation is to erase oneself.
identity is a disease.
and today i prefer to blend in with my canvas.
i am tired.
there’s a leak in my rowboat and i’m ready to sink.
the other night, i couldn’t bring myself to sleep in the precious heat of the Zurich twilight.
i said a prayer for the poets that came before me and took my notebook into the bathroom light.
i was pleased not to recognize my own face in the mirror.
whoever this girl was,
she had welcoming eyes,
and i felt a great sadness that I couldn’t reach out to hold her.
between me and her,
there was a disturbing divide.
and between me and you,
there is a disturbing divide.
i am disappearing into that space between us.
but the first step of transformation is to erase oneself.
identity is a disease.
and today, i prefer to blend in with my canvas.
i can feel myself
inside this second layer of skin.
not me, but a symbol of me.
plasticized by plastic paint.
i trust my eyes, but i cannot feel the air around me.
i’m a vacuum of space,
a blank slate, a wild nothing.
all that you see is a reflection of your own knowledge.
so who am i, according to you?
i am not myself.
i am somebody else standing next to me.
desperate for my own attention,
demanding to be destroyed.
and you?
what do you see inside that canvas?
staring into your dreams.
lean in close and your subject emerges.
a figure forms,
floating on the picture plane.
who am i, according to you?
and what will you make of me?

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Alexa Meade painting Sheila Vand
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Sheila Vand circling the canvas, preparing to submerge
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Alexa Meade photographs Sheila Vand
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Sheila Vand painted in the milk

Screenshot_2Alexa Meade in Milk (16) Alexa Meade in Milk (15) Alexa Meade in Milk (14) Alexa Meade in Milk (13) Alexa Meade in Milk (12) Alexa Meade in Milk (11) Alexa Meade in Milk (10) Alexa Meade in Milk (9) Alexa Meade in Milk (7) Alexa Meade in Milk (6) Alexa Meade in Milk (5) Alexa Meade in Milk (4) Alexa Meade in Milk (3) Alexa Meade in Milk (2) Alexa Meade in Milk (1)

Alexa Meade at the National Portrait Gallery

. For “Portraits After 5: Camera-Ready Color”, Meade create an interactive installation in the Kogod Courtyard of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery that allow viewers of the art to become participants–by entering into the space, experiencing it “in depth,” and reinterpreting the work through their own photography. The installation will reference the innovation in Harry Warnecke’s photographic portraits seen in the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition: “In Vibrant Color”.

Alexa Meade Portraits (8)Alexa Meade Portraits (6)Alexa Meade Portraits (3) Alexa Meade Portraits (2) Alexa Meade Portraits (1) Alexa Meade Portraits (10) Alexa Meade Portraits (9)  Alexa Meade Portraits (7)

Alexa Meade Street Art

Alexa Meade Street Art (6) Alexa Meade Street Art (5) Alexa Meade Street Art (4) Alexa Meade Street Art (3) Alexa Meade Street Art (2) Alexa Meade Street Art (1)1175265_10151677483048924_1172674237_n 1233446_10151677482738924_768542230_n

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