Ariana Lindenfelser’s artistic voice was quietly humming along through realistic portrait paintings until one of her professors suggested she write a statement based on her blog and then create art from that.
Her blog, redfoxinbootz.com, was a curated stream of images and Gifs Lindenfelser found online.
Upon review, Lindenfelser noted recurring themes of powerful but nonthreatening female sexuality; violent images that were also beautiful (ie the cut up fish that’s innards were a near-sublime color blue); hip-hop references to excess; and, yes, cowboys.
Suddenly everything clicked and her artistry started to sing. Or, maybe, rap.
Voila, her senior thesis show, which opens this week. Two words inspired “Then Came the Cowboys, the Nightclubs, and a Life of Glamour and Opulence” — “Ride” and “Money.”
The appealing paintings are comments on the various meanings of these two words in our history and in pop culture, particularly hip-hop culture today. The images interestingly hover between demonization and idolization of materialism. They are titled by recognizable sayings — “Ride it Out,” “One for the Money, Two for the Show,” “Hold your Pretty Horses,” “This isn't your First Rodeo.” (That last painting is of an iconic virgin surrounded by a halo of expensive show horses.)
The art immerses imagery from the Wild West with that of urban street culture in sweeping pastel swagger. Interesting choice for an affable girl who grew up on Cleveland's right side of the tracks.
“I was an artsy kid in a wealthy area,” she said, admitting that she likes money, a refreshingly honest statement from anyone, especially an art student. “I love things. I like that there are things people have made that I can then own.”
Lindenfelser hasn't noticed a dissonance between embracing wealth while being in art school.
“I think people at this point just take me for how I am,” she said. “I think they can see I've got my s—t together.”
So much so, Lindenfelser has already made a name for herself in the Short North-fashion scene. Better known by her social media and blog handle, Red Fox in Bootz, Lindenfelser works at clothing store/hip hangout Milk Bar and does graphic design work for myriad local brands and hip-hop acts.
Being a socialite doesn't scare the 22-year-old. She applies the term to herself willingly. Her senior thesis show won't be in full effect until closing night, she said; a DJ performance and party will complete the art.
And it's hard not to like her as she genuinely gushes about loving her friends and getting experiences to make even more of them. Lindenfelser and her art aren't really about making money or being famous. They're about a need to live uniquely, fiercely and decked in fake fur and sequins.
“When I grow up,” she said, “I want to be a professional Cheetah Girl.”
Life does not scare Lindenfelser either. In fact, she can't get enough of it.
Photos by Meghan Ralston