Flattening three-dimensional installations into two-dimensional images, Alexa Meade compresses reality by covering models in specifically applied paint, making sure to focus on painted shadows and highlights to transform her posed subjects into paintings. Meade’s works, which she has referred to as “reverse trompe l’oeil” combine installation, painting, photography, and even performance, as many of her works are done live and with little room for error. Mistakes made during her painting process however, often add to the overall dynamism of the piece, creating an aesthetic tension for each of her living works.
“There are so many things going on at once in my process that something is always bound to go wrong,” Meade recently told Colossal. “Having to problem solve in the moment and hack together a solution will typically result in me bringing something new and fresh to the painting that I didn’t intend or expect. The artwork often turns out so much better than I had originally envisioned.”
Often these errors are due to the fact that Meade is creating her works on live models, and unlike swathes of canvas, her medium has interests, personalities, and needs which influence the work. “If you are a painter painting on canvas you don’t have to care about its feelings or emotions,” said Meade, “the canvas doesn’t have to go to the bathroom.”
Meade didn’t always start out as an artist, in fact she studied politics and worked in Washington D.C. before experimenting with her current practice. “I discovered my method completely by accident,” said Meade. “Then I had to actually teach myself out to paint.” Now Meade is a represented artist in three countries and is often asked to do live painting performances, such as this month during FORM Arcosanti, an outdoor micro arts and music festival which we attended with WeTransfer and came across Meade’s work. You can see more of her process and images on her Facebook and Instagram.