Meet The Artist Immortalizing Your Favorite Pop Culture Icons

Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
Artist Aliza Stone Howard has a knack for nuance. Ever since her senior thesis show at Harvard, a series of paintings in which she elegantly captured Jewish women from New York City, Howard has refined her unique process to better canonize fleeting but important moments others might consider mundane.

Working from photographs has allowed Howard to develop a uniquely hyperrealistic style with a humorously anachronistic subtext. "In moving from photographs to paint, I emphasize certain subtleties, exploring the purposefulness behind the gestures that we usually mistake as natural," says Howard. "[Whether that's] the particular way in which a woman holds a glass of wine, [or how] she runs her fingers through her hair."

Click through to see Howard's take on everyone from Cara Delevingne to Hannah Horvath.
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Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
When did you start painting pop culture and why?
"I've always been drawn to imagery from pop culture. One of the first painting series I did was four 5'x 5' portraits of female characters in film that I've always admired: Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , and Cher Horowitz [Alicia Silverstone] in Clueless. I'm really curious about the temporal aspects of oil paintings, and pop culture icons allow me to play with that idea. On the one hand, certain characters and scenes last forever in our memories; on the other hand, they inspire nostalgia and define such particular eras."
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Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
Are all of your paintings based on movie stills and photographs?
"I almost always work from photographs. When I paint people I know, I take my own photographs, and when I paint images from film and television, I usually spend all day watching the show or movie, taking screenshots to gather my sources. (That actually sounds like more fun than it is.) I'm glad that I prefer to work from photographs because my paintings take me a long time to make, and I'm not sure I'd tolerate that many hours with a portrait sitter. The only person who's allowed to spend that much time in the studio with me is my dog!"
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Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
What is your preferred medium?
"I really only use oil paint because it's a medium that we tend to associate with permanence — oil portraits are serious and they last forever, so something interesting happens when they feature a Nokia cell phone with an antenna and a character from a movie that, to me, defines the '90s."
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Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
"For instance, my recent painting of Clueless' Cher Horowitz at gunpoint triggers very specific memories of that scene, but it also brings attachment to that movie immediately to the present. When I first showed that painting in a group exhibition, I literally stood by it the entire night listening to people imitate the, 'You don't understand, this is an Alaïa!' quote. That reaction was really cool and definitely solidified this idea that certain moments in TV and film belong to our collective unconscious."
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Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
You have a famous fan in Man Repeller founder Leandra Medine — whose portrait you've also done. Does that get kind of meta for you?
"A few years ago, she posted a photograph of herself holding a camera, and I asked her if I could paint it because I thought that would add another interesting layer of viewing: painting an image of this heavily viewed and photographed woman, holding a camera with the lens facing the viewer of both the photograph and then the painting. I have since been playing around with more elusive self-portraits that don't focus as much on the face. I recently painted a friend of mine sitting on her living room couch in the act of taking a selfie, so her iPhone covers her face and her gesture takes over as a marker of identity and narrative. I am undoubtedly inspired by all things meta, all the time."
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Photo: Via @AlizaStoneHoward.
"The Real Housewives holding wine glasses, Olivia Pope making 'Olivia Pope face', Hannah Horvath making the expression she makes in nearly every episode before offering a sarcastic complaint — all of these have made their way into my work and belong to this particular moment, and I'm curious to see how their meanings will change once they become very 2013-2015."
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