Tell us a little about yourself ~
Stephanie Sara Lifshutz is an artist and educator from Brooklyn, NY primarily working in neon. She received her MFA from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 2016 and currently teaches at Brooklyn Glass.
What do you like about your medium ~
I like that the medium provides new technical challenges with every piece and opportunities for growth and improvement.
What is the most challenging part about your medium ~
Bending glass tubes for neon is challenging because each bend is essentially permanent, we cannot undo a bend or edit a mistake. We have to be comfortable with restarting a piece from scratch if something goes wrong, or if we change our mind about how it looks.
What is your process like ~
I usually begin by meditating on a phrase that I've used in conversation - or wish I had - and think about all the variables that will affect how the words will be read by a stranger, usually by digitally testing out many different fonts, sizes, line thickness and color options before drawing or printing a bending pattern. If I am struggling to decide between two colors or fonts I'll show a mockup of the piece to friends or family to gauge their reactions and make a better informed decision. From there I bend the glass tubes and fill them with one of the noble gasses (usually neon or argon+mercury) and light them up! If the piece doesn't evoke the emotion or reaction I hope for I just start the process all over again.
Sources of Inspiration ~
Books are a large source of indirect inspiration, because I don't make anything out of neon that is a quote from someone else, but the more I work with text in my art the more I pay attention to a beautifully arranged group of words that sit with me long after I have read them. Like that, much of my work is about the experience or participatory interaction a viewer has with my work, so when someone reads something I make I want the words to stay with them and maybe change how they think of the phase as time goes on. More formally, I am inspired by Allan Kaprow and the Fluxus movement of the 1950's and 60's in the US.