Guest blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art offering lectures, tours and program planning. She will lead a Gallery Hopping class for SMU/CAPE on June 18th.
Dallas based artist Jay Shinn has been around building sites all his life. He followed his father into construction, thinking in wood and steel. Some 20 years ago, Shinn began seeing the wood as more than just a framing element. The wood planks became organic pillars with sensuous painted curves. The steel became lines drawn in the air. Then he added paint, light projections and now neon. To Shinn, “the idea is more important than the materials.”
And ideas were plentiful at the Crow Collection of Asian Art this March during the free three-day intensive workshop, NEONASIA, in which Shinn, as the Artist in Residence, mentored 12 teens selected from 40 applicants across the D-FW area. The participants were given the opportunity to learn more about Asian art, to work collaboratively and quickly in teams of three, to be mentored by a successful artist and to create works in neon, inspired by the Crow Collection.
I joined them on the first day of the workshop as Shinn talked about the assignment: to choose a work from the Crow Collection which would inspire them to create a work out of neon. They should respond to the lines of the piece, the light emitted, or whatever relationship they discovered and could translate into neon and to “rely on the kindness of others ( neon manufacturers) to bring their concepts to reality”. During a site visit to Neon Of Dallas, which actually fabricated the work, the teens learned the parameters, the challenges and the fun of bending, coloring and creating with fire and glass.
Who would have thought that an art work created in the 21st century of a material created in the late 19th century would be inspired by an Asian work from the 15th century? The teenagers have shown us the light. Their neon works will be on display in the Crow Collection Flora Street windows until June 10th,.
The success of the workshop experience is best described in comments the students made in daily blogs.
“Asian art is more contemporary than it seems.”
“I learned how to work with deadlines and with groups.”
I feel I can work with new materials, not just neon, but sculpture in general”.
“Neon is a very limited medium pushing us to really get to the point. With this we learned to find what is important in our inspired pieces and essentially giving us a deeper understanding of minimal art.”
I am ridiculously excited about my artistic future”.
I am not sure how the Museum could improve this program, because I had a blast.”