Alexa Meade paints mesmerizing, illusionistic portraits directly on living subjects, subverting familiar visual cues with perspective and color.

Why you should listen

Alexa Meade’s portraits spring from a long-term fascination with the illusions inherent in representational media. Rather than paint on canvas, she applies paint directly to her subjects -- the people, as well as the objects surrounding them and the background. She then photographs the ephemeral installation/painting. The resulting optically treacherous portraits collapse the subject, foreground and background into one continuous plane, challenging the perceptual boundaries between 2D and 3D.

What others say

“Meade uses a brush. She paints skin on skin, lips on lips and eyebrows on eyebrows, and the insides of nostrils, using her own mixture of nontoxic paints and unspecified ingredients.” — Washington Post

Alexa Meade’s TED talks

Alexa Meade on the TED Blog
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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

People as paintings: Alexa Meade at TEDGlobal 2013

June 13, 2013

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 […]

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