Live from TEDGlobal

People as paintings: Alexa Meade at TEDGlobal 2013

Posted by:

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

When you’re an artist, everything you see can seem like a canvas, a blank page with the potential for something beautiful. Alexa Meade sees this quite literally, using actual people as both subject and canvas. Painting on a 1-to-1 scale, Meade takes real-life subjects and turns them into paintings, playing with the shadow and light of the human form.

"Blueprint" / Photo: Alexa Meade

“Blueprint” / Photo: Alexa Meade

Look closely.

"Blueprint" installation / Photo: Alexa Meade

“Blueprint” installation / Photo: Alexa Meade

"Spectacle" / Photo: Alexa Meade

“Spectacle” / Photo: Alexa Meade

And again:

"Spectacle" installation / Alexa Meade

“Spectacle” installation / Photo: Alexa Meade

Meade graduated with a degree in political science and thought she’d get a government job, but when she found this way of creating a portrait late in her college career, it changed the direction of her life. So, instead of moving to Washington, DC, and taking a desk job after graduation, she moved into her parents’ basement and began teaching herself to paint. Her first models were grapefruit, eggs, toast … then moving on herself and her neighbor.


Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Onstage, she shares a new series of collaborative portraits, working with Sheila Vand, in which they paint a model and then photograph her lying in a tub of milk. The opaque liquid produces unexpected results, hiding and revealing as the paint swirls away. See more of Alexa Meade’s work >>

Alexa Meade’s talk is now available for viewing. Watch it on »