Is Alexa Meade a painter or is she a photographer? Alexa's unique take on both mediums has completely blurred the idea of what is real and what is imagination. Traditional painting attempts to take a two dimensional medium and make it look 3D while photography does the opposite by capturing a 3D space and translating it to a 2D surface. Alexa's work throws both of these ideas into a blender and leaves the viewer wondering what is real and what is simply paint. The results are fascinating!
Using acrylic paint, Alexa wondered what the results would look like if she actually painted shadows and highlights on top of a real subject. Instead of painting on a canvas or another 2D material, Alexa's canvas became her friends and strangers who were willing to become THE work of art. By applying light paint and dark paint on top of her subject's natural highlights and shadows, a completely new form of mixed media emerged. Once these scenes were captured through the camera's lens it became near impossible to determine if the resulting work was a photograph of a 2D painting or a photograph of a real 3D set covered in paint.
Most of these images can take days to complete. Alexa first paints all the clothing and the surrounding set days before the final photograph is taken. On the day of the photoshoot, the actual model is brought into the painting and dressed in the clothes that were painted days before. Once the model is painted and any touchups have been done, Alexa captures the final photograph with everything perfectly in place. Even though Alexa is essentially doing something that resembles extreme Photoshop retouching, she is very adamant that the click of the shutter is the end of the art process. What you see is what you get, and Alexa resists the urge to repair anything in Photoshop once the final photographs are taken and all the paint is cleaned up.
Like most artistic people, Alexa's journey wasn't a linear path towards a final career in the arts. Starting out as a political science graduate, Alexa soon realized that her experiments painting on 3D surfaces was something that left her far too curious to abandon. Upon graduation she packed up her college life and headed back home to begin working on the new art form she recently discovered. Locked up in her parent's basement, Alexa explored every possible direction her painting could go when applied onto real life objects. She painted eggs, fruit, toast, and other house hold items. As she began to feel more comfortable in her technique, Alexa started testing her strange approach on what would ultimately become her claim to fame: painting on the human body.
I find the resulting images super interesting. Many of her photographs look exactly like a painting and might actually go unnoticed as anything other than acrylic on canvas. Other images are creepy and mysterious. Perhaps my favorite images are the ones where Alexa enters the photographs to reveal that her work is in fact a mixture of both painting and traditional photography.
You can see some of Alexa's images on her website and also in this interesting Behind the Scenes video showing her process (slightly NSFW)