Neon Artist – Lisa Schulte
Neon light boasts two primary identities: a jubilance that reflects the radiance of midday, and an evening persona of romance and excitement, wherein surging flickers of curved encapsulated candles intrigue passersby. As an American sculptor born in Long Island, New York, I have mastered the many “faces” of neon, earning the moniker, “The Neon Queen”.
As a woman from German, Irish, and Spanish descent, I have lived the majority of my life in Los Angeles, California, while working (in some capacity) with light. After a childhood eye injury when I was seven left me in the darkness for several months of healing, I not only emerged re-gifted with sight, I also possessed a fierce appreciation of the nuanced interactions between light and dark.
Years later, in 1984, I discovered innovation in the medium of light, which was a necessary step toward the realization of my conceptualized projects. Finding I possessed the talent to work with the medium, I studied in Kansas under Master Neon Tube Bender Freddie Elliot, and my growing prowess sparked the beginnings of “Nights of Neon” – a (35-plus years running) Los Angeles neon studio and boutique creative space providing custom neon pieces for films, events, and branding.
In 2016, hybrid car company Karma Automotive, the embodiment of tech and nature, commissioned me to create a sculpture that would capture the essence of their brand. The result, titled ‘The Undefeated Spirit,’ was a technically challenging sculpture comprised of curved wood and white neon, shaped to depict the car’s aerodynamic lines.
Throughout my career I have merged artistic genres by collaborating with contemporary artists such as RISK, Gregory Siff and Cleon Peterson. In 2017, working with illustrator Brendan Donnelly, I constructed a vibrant, celebratory neon sign for Bulleit Frontier Whiskey which is currently on display in downtown Los Angeles.
After amassing experience and exposure, I shifted my focus to envisioning and creating intricate, abstract designs often absent in neon, and for the last decade, I have turned inward to create personal pieces exhibited in museums and fine art galleries nationwide. This includes work exploring my passion for organic forms; work that provokes a broader dialogue pertaining to relativity and environmental adaptation. In a recent series, I externalized the metaphor of unity by pairing two disparate mediums – white neon and found wood – in a novel harmony; their differences highlighting the inherent beauty possessed by each. Currently I am focusing my practice in creating abstract pieces built from neon and wood.