24in x 18in C-Print, 2010
Photo of a performance comprised of acrylic paint on a live model and found objects.
At 25 years old Alexa Meade has taken art for a unique ride. Although she has only just recently become an interest in the art world she has quickly developed a style that is so unique and original that it would be hard not to forget who she was once someone has seen her works.
Starting a few years ago this unique women was a student in Political Science with a year to go in her degree. As a press intern on Capitol Hill and later as a press staffer to the Obama Campaign she realized that she has a fascination with the ability that politics carried on altering the perceptions of their followers. This sparked a curiosity that became a passion. From this unique fascination in politics Meade has based her work. She has developed an artistic process that takes models and turns them into embodiments of the artists representation of their essence. Her works create a perceptual shift in how we experience and interpret spatial relationships. This affect that she can create which is considered tromp l’oeil; incorporates photography, performance, installation, and painting. This creative way of taking a 3D shape and flattening it into 2D by incorporating the model into a plane and then photographing the finished work (because the model cannot be sold as a painting). Her background in political communications sparked a huge interest in the tensions created between perception and reality.
Meade’s process for completing these optical illusions starts with acrylic paints, a model, and a pre-photo. Meade takes this pre-photo in order to have a reference point as she goes about using the model’s lines and shadows that are naturally there and heightening them. Although Meade usually tries to do the works from memory of the natural formations. Meade takes a model and paints them (head down sometimes including clothing) with acrylic paint. She has to work quickly due to the fast drying nature of acrylics with higher body temperatures. Once done creating the model based on shadows, lines, and acrylic paint she moves onto the background. She takes basic backgrounds like tarps, or umbrellas, beds, clothes, etc… and paints them following the same process as her muse. Once done, she places the muse and the background together and finishes out her process by taking photos of the finished product in order to have the sellable criteria.
24in x18in C-Print, 2010
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Her passion for art started when she still worked as a press staffer for the Obama Campaign and before she knew it has turned into a career choice. With no formal art training she moved her name into the art world slowly but surly starting with a gallery exhibition in her friend’s Baltimore living room in 2009 and then progressed onto residencies in places such as Red Dirt Studios in Rainier, Maryland and Catwalk Art Center in Catskill, New York in 2010. Since then she has had numerous bibliographies written about her from New York Art Beat, The Washington Post, Modern Magazine to the more recent (9/02/11), Today Show.
Her current projects that are seen focus on painting portraits directly on top of her human subject. The idea that this fascination derived from her experiences in the political communication world creates a unusual separation between reality and illusion. Knowing that this is possible in art creates an even bigger connection to what people do not always realize when it comes to politics. That what is said and what is done are two completely different components. She wants us to know “That what one experiences cannot always be interpreted at face value; seeing is not necessarily believing.” These projects take the core image and make it an imitation of itself with the core being covered by fiction. The one thing that makes these paintings believable is that they are real humans put into superficial scenarios. The two things that Meade does not cover with her painting technique is the hair and the eyes. When you look directly at this painting although a fantastic representation of illusion, if you look close enough you can see the reality within.
- Kristi Underwood