Vexta: The Artist Behind the Fourth Floor’s New Mural
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Travel across the fourth floor and you are sure to run into Stuyvesant’s newest mural, Space is the Place: a wall of black dappled with geometric neon jewels. Ever wondered who created the math department’s masterpiece? Meet Yvette Vexta—more commonly known by her artist name, Vexta—a self-taught artist from the streets of Melbourne.
Vexta’s impressive art career had an unconventional start. She initially studied journalism in university, so her artistic experience came from working directly on the streets. “Originally, I used stuff from the hardware store,” Vexta remembered. “I got started doing stencils on the street, which is when you get a piece of card and it’s like a silk screen. You cut holes in the card and you [spray paint] through it.”
Vexta’s art is particularly known for her use of neon colors, a signature that stems from her background in street art. “As a graffiti artist or an illegal street artist, you find a way to make your work recognizable, so [when] somebody sees something, they know it’s by you [...] I started using those bright colors repetitively, and also because I loved them.”
Vexta finds inspiration for different parts of her artwork, including the signature fluorescent colors, in the world around her. “My original inspiration for those bright colors was looking at the colors in nature that nature uses to signify danger or grab your attention,” she said. Another one of her biggest influences is rooted in cultural significance: mythology. “I’m interested in mythology, and comparative mythology in particular. I like to learn when I’m traveling about different myths. The stories and the narrative threads stretched through all different cultures historically have similarities and why we as humans want to talk about those things.”
Vexta is inspired not only by her discoveries in the outside world, but also by those within her own mind. “Some of the things I’ll make come from an idea that pops into my head or might come from a dream or a daydream,” she said. Especially when she has music playing, her imagination sets no limits on what she can create.
Even holding on to all those sources of ideas and inspiration, Vexta trusts her gut when she creates art. “I always worked really instinctually. When I first start[ed] making I would make what I felt like making,” she said. “Sometimes I would get a picture in my mind and that is what I want to make and see.”
For Space is the Place, Vexta took inspiration from the setting: the math department floor. “For the mural that I painted for the school, I was looking at platonic solids and sacred geometry and 3D shapes,” she said. “I’ve been playing around with those designs for a while. The way that crystals form is really mathematical.”
Vexta has found that math lends itself to her art, even when the piece she is creating has little to do with a high school math department. “Art can cross [between] different worlds, of something that’s beautiful to look at and something that’s mathematical, so it’s good for schools to have color and things that can inspire students to think differently about subjects,” she said.
Something that Vexta has found beneficial in her journey as an artist is working alongside other people. “Finding other people to do [art] with is always really great because you push each other and you can give each other feedback,” she said. “I had a particular friend when I was in high school. And we did lots of art together: photography, ceramics, and drawing.” Having someone to do art with not only helped Vexta create more, but also create less. “We would always tell each other when to stop. Like when we shouldn’t add any more drawing. And it was really valuable because sometimes it’s like overcooking a cake. You can overwork a painting or paint on it too much,” she said.
While it may certainly be intimidating to let others into one’s creative space, Vexta stresses that having a wall to bounce ideas off of is priceless. “I think when you’re being creative, you want to be in an environment [where] you feel comfortable and supported so that you can experiment [...] I do really enjoy doing stuff on my own sometimes, not having other people around. But I think when you’re first starting out, it can be really fun to experiment with other people.”
In the end, perhaps the most important advice that can be given is also the simplest. “Do [art]. Just think about what you really enjoy making creatively,” she said. “If you enjoy drawing, draw more and if you’re not sure, try out lots of different things. And then when you find one that you really like, just make time for it.”