Meris Drew is sometimes surprised where her pen or brush takes her. “My Love After All,” an ink pen and oil pencil on linen paper, began as a drawing of a single red rose with the words For My Love After All just below a green leaf. She then began incorporating intricate floral designs, eyes, Xs and Os, and swirly patterns, and became engrossed in the process.
“I was intrigued by the way more detail could be added at any point in a seemingly infinite way and ended up just filling the entire page,” the 16-year-old Cooper City High School student explains.
Once finished with that piece, she created the equally detailed “Absolution,” which began with a drawing of a candle, and “Think, Feel,” which includes the same obsessive patterns around a knife dripping with blood.
The works, each of which took three to four weeks to finish, appear in Tenuousness, a series featured in Drew’s debut solo show at Undergrounds Coffeehaus in Fort Lauderdale. The show also includes watercolors of psychedelic landscapes, in which mountains have colorful leaf designs and skies burst with blue hearts, yellow diamonds and Van Gogh-like swirls.
Undergrounds Coffeehaus owner Aileen Liptak says she didn’t initially realize Drew was only 16, but that the artist was superorganized about producing a bio and pictures and having her work matted, framed and priced. “I really like her style,” Liptak says. “It’s definitely bright and colorful and it’s different. She did some serious pen and ink [works] and they were amazing, very detailed.”
Drew creates art at home while hanging out with her cat, Turbo, and listening to music, mostly folk-rock and bluesy tunes from groups such as Fanfarlo, Fleet Foxes and Andrew Bird. She also draws during school hours. “I’m actually probably the most productive at school when I’m being lectured,” she says.
While she doesn’t plot out her works, she often creates a psychedelic world she’d like to visit. “Sometimes, they just end up representing these nice places I’d never seen or thought of,” she says, “which is kind of cool because I can spend awhile looking at something after I’ve already made it, exploring this new place.”
Drew’s favorite artists include Banksy, Koznydan, Roger Dean and Miami’s Danny Brito. Her favorite quote is by Chuck Palahniuk: “Art never comes from happiness.”
“The appeal I find in that quote isn’t necessarily to say that art comes from sadness or struggle,” she explains. “Art doesn’t come from happiness. But I think that’s because happiness — or any emotion, really — is what comes from art. It’s not necessary to feel anything in order to create art, because the creation is what should spark the feeling. Some people may work off inspiration, but I find inspiration in working and the emotional vagaries it draws forth.”
Meris Drew’s exhibition will be on display through April 5 at Undergrounds Coffeehaus, 2743 E. Oakland Park Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-630-1900.
Contact Colleen Dougher at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was originally published March 15, 2011.