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HCA graduate Lexi Strauss wins MA place at Royal College of Art
11:10am Friday 17th August 2012 in Visual Arts
LEXI Strauss, who graduated from Hereford College of Arts last year with a first class degree in fine art, has been offered a place at The Royal College of Art to study for an MA in painting.
Malvern-based Lexi, who originally trained as an actress, plans to bring the two creative strands of her life together in her masters’ work.
“What really attracted me about the Royal College was discovering that a good few of the tutors were performance artists as well as artists,” she says.
“I thought it would really suit me, because I want to develop the acting together with the painting and I believe that it’s the place to really help me do that.”
Lexi’s work, whether painting or performance, is, she explains, about gaining a greater understanding of both herself, other people and the wider world.
“What I am trying to do with still life, more inanimate things, is try to understand what it is about an image I have found that draws me and excites me. Through the process of painting it I will discover what that is.
My paintings are like Finding a real purpose for art timeout theatre 123 visual arts 124 books, nightclubs 125 music 126, 127 gig guide 127 stage sets, suggesting different narratives to people.
Inanimate objects, or spaces implying significantly absent humans, are a common thread - the empty chairs represent individuals or groups held back by belief systems, but they are also aspects of myself.
“The performance art is closely related to my painting,” said Lexi.
“I began with portraiture – which is another way of doing theatre. I was re-creating the energy of a subject through painting rather than through voice and gestures as I would as an actor.
“In my interview I did little bits of verbatim theatre (in which she interviewed the interviewers, reflecting their words and gestures a millisecond later), a technique that enables the performer to be in the energy of the other person.
It’s a way of trying to understand myself through other people, trying to understand the world through mirroring it. The process, known as mimesis, is at the heart of all art forms.
“It connects us to other people and develops our empathy. Establishing that empathic connection with the world can be used within education, in conflict resoltuion and problems with bullying. I believe there is a lot of potential in this kind of stuff and I’d really like to find other artists who want to use art for the same specific purpose I want to use it for.
Expanding on the theme, Lexi believes that art should be “healing to look at and healing to make.”
Reflecting on the BA, for which she worked part-time to accommodate her other life as mother to her young son, Wilf, and now her success winning a place at the Royal College, Lexi adds: “I’m thrilled that my son has witnessed my development; I think it’s important for children to see their parents happy and progressing.”
Allison Neal, course leader for the BA (Hons) fine art course at HCA is delighted at Lexi’s achievements. She said: “Lexi’s ability was obvious from a very early stage and this showed in the outstanding work she produced for the degree show.
“We offer her our heartiest congratulations and will be watching her career with great interest.”
Two of Lexi’s paintings can been seen at the Herefordshire Open Exhibition at Hereford Museum and Art Gallery from September 8-16.