Transforming Art with Alexa Meade

Alexa Meade, a talented artist which discovered her passion and notwithstanding the myriad of challenges, she followed her dream and became successful, making a 3D space look like a 2D painting.

Impakter: How did you find your passion?

Alexa Meade: I grew up in Washington D.C. I was interested in politics and I studied Political Science in the college. I also interned in Capital Hill and worked for the Obama campaign in Colorado in 2008 as a press staffer.

One day I came up with this simple idea of putting black paint over natural shadows, that made me realize that by painting the mapping of light on the top of an object I was able to make a 3D space look like a 2D painting. At that point, I just graduated from college and decided not to get a job in politics but to make a career as an artist.

How did you master your skills?

A.M.: I did not study painting, as I mentioned I studied politics. I developed my drawing skills by looking at objects in a 3D space and tried to figure out how to make a painting from them. Of course, there was a lot of trial and error and I am still learning new skills.


Where and how do you come up with ideas for your paintings?

A.M.: Well, I am often inspired by people, as they always have something about them that makes me look at them and paint.  I can also say that all my inspiration is in 3D space. I don’t really sketch, I don’t do preparation steps as most artists do before they paint and I don’t  paint on canvas. When I’m conceptualizing a new composition, I like to think about the subject matter as a complete space rather than the static image.


Which challenges did you have in the beginning and how did you manage them?

A.M.: One challenge was just a lack of confidence and not feeling comfortable with telling people that I was not an artist. It was scary and I felt vulnerable about it. But I overcame these feelings with a help of my friends and parents who believed in me and made me feel more confident about what I was doing.

Another challenge was painting on non-traditional surfaces. Instead of using canvas I had to find different objects to paint on. As I did not have a job and I did not have enough money, I spent a lot of time in my parents’ kitchen and I painted on objects like grapefruits, lemons and other objects.

Photo Credit: Alexa Meade

Can you tell us about your process for portraits?

 A.M.: Usually I spend around thirty minutes trying to figure out the composition I am going to paint so this is the most stressful and the hardest part of the process for me.  But, once I have a clear vision, everything goes fast. I  can spend two hours on painting the clothes, about an hour to painting background and finally a half an hour to paint the model. After that, I spend another hour for the photography and video. So it takes sometimes the whole afternoon, however for the big projects I need more time to paint a background.



What type of paint do you use?

A.M.: I use non-toxic acrylic paints which is better for the skin. In order to prevent cracking and  to increase the longevity of the paint, I put down a layer of liquid latex first to prime the skin, all while ensuring the model does not have an allergy to it.

Photo Credit: Alexa Meade

Tell me about your style. Would you consider trying something new?

A.M.: I always experiment with other styles, I’m creating some tessellating shape tiles as a design toy that helps build spatial intelligence. I also have an idea for turning my house into a funhouse. It combines all different sorts of optical illusions. I’ve built all sorts of contraptions with Chris Hughes like a periscope mirror system that allows me to see outside all of the windows in my house while I’m lying in bed. My pantry doubles as a mini disco hall. My bathroom closet has a neon jungle and demands special diffraction film eyewear that turns the world into rainbows.

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That´s very interesting. When and where will your next exhibition be?

A.M.: My next opening will be on 29 September in Munich, Germany, in the Ingo Seufert Gallery for Contemporary Photography. 

Photo Credit: Alexa Meade


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EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of
Featured Image Photo Credit: Alexa Meade




There are 4 comments

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  1. Carmie Malubay

    Traditionally, artists try to make their masterpieces look as “alive” or as realistic as possible. With Alexa’s technique, she’s makes her live subjects look like a painting. Interesting! Her style somehow reminds me of Van Gogh.

  2. Alexandra Bate

    Alexa’s style is very intriguing! I admire how she uses the human body and deconstructs the notion that artistic truth and beauty can be found in different styles other than photo-realism or styles we associate with resembling the closest thing to our idea of the ‘reality of things’.

  3. Claude Forthomme

    I agree with previous commentators, Alexa’s style is very intriguing – and what I really like about it is the irony she uses in her work, yes, she is ironical about this, playing with different and recognizable styles but inverting the logic of it. The painting doesn’t go on a canvas, it’s not reducing 3 D reality onto a 2 D medium, it’s the reverse, cool!

    And I’m impressed by the speed at which she works, it takes her one afternoon to produce the whole “canvas”, that’s amazing.

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