From the window in my home office there is a rhythmic calmness from the sound of raindrops beating upon the old wooden pallets I’ve been storing for a future project. My sweet canine children, Dexter and Noreen, are snoring in near-perfect rhythm with “Forever & Always (Acoustic)” from Speak Now, the album of choice for this rainy day.
Behind me, my feline child, Lyle, is mocking me with his yellow eyes. Behind him, Carissa is combing through and inventorying a mountain of project supplies. My human child is hiding in his room avoiding our chaos and his frustration with being “trapped” at home.
This interview was not done from a fancy hotel or poolside (as most of my interviews have been conducted). It was done from my home office, surrounded by those I love and a socially unacceptable amount of Taylor Swift swag as we all continue to hunker down during the current health crisis.
Art is my harmony in the dissonance. And talking art and Taylor is, by far, the highlight of being stuck at home on this 35,927th day of quarantine (or so it feels).
Lea Manning, Mood 13 May Featured Artist
I couldn’t exactly sip down a ME!mosa poolside with Lea Manning, chatting with her about her work, her connection to Taylor and what Taylor means to her after thirteen years has turned a rainy day of quarantine Hell into a delight.
C: Tell me about your connection with Taylor?
L: “My connection with Taylor feels like that of a friend you meet in kindergarten and have for life. They’re always there for you and it feels like you’ve grown up together.”
C: How does she inspire your art?
L: “Taylor inspires my art because she is so much fun to draw! From incredible tour outfits and amazing taste in fashion, it’s sometimes hard to decide what outfit I’d like to draw next. Her personality vibrates through everything I draw.”
C: When did you start working with fabric?
L: “When did I start working with fabric…as a kid, I always loved felt. So, that was my introduction to simple sewing projects. I really got serious when I was about twenty and I bought a sewing machine. I used to make handbags, makeup bags, and plushies! My favorite thing I’ve ever made was one of my favorite Pokémon, Milotic. The very first Taylor themed craft I ever did wasn’t with fabric. They were these cute resin pendants. I kinda wanna make Lover versions of these.”
C: You were 13 (how fitting) when Taylor came into your life. You’ve grown together in so many ways, worlds apart yet near to the heart so to speak. What is Taylor doing currently that is impacting you as you continue to grow up together?
L: “I think Taylor’s biggest impact on me recently has been her voice. Speaking up for herself, as well as other artists is something the industry needs more of. It’s certainly taught me that I shouldn’t take things lightly. People are greedy, and will do whatever they can to take, take, take. At the opposite end, it feels like all Taylor does is give give give. That’s the end I want to be on.”
C: What projects do you find yourself working on the most while you are staying at home?
L: “While stuck at home during all this quarantine madness, I find myself reading more than anything. I like to gather ideas for stories I like to write and what better way than reading some good science fiction? I like to start my days off early. Maybe around 7 am or so. I make a cup of coffee, read some news, and dive into a good book. I would much rather be floating in a pool with a drink in my hand, but for now my imagination will have to do!”
C: What do you hope that people take away from your art? Is it inspiration, motivation or something else?”
L: “Honestly, if my art can make one person smile and inspire them to draw or try a craft, I feel accomplished. It’s an incredibly good stress reliever for me, and an amazing feeling of accomplishment when I finish a piece. I hope my art can inspire people to check out Taylor’s music if they are new to the fandom! If I can motivate even just one person to say “wow! I really like that drawing. I wanna try something like that.” I feel like I’ve done my job!
For more of Lea’s art and her full interview, make sure you check the May 2020 issue of Mood 13 Magazine.