Neon is actually a gas, grouped with the Noble gases, that is stable, colorless, and odorless. A neon light is a sealed tube filled with low pressure neon gas that emits color when electricity is applied. But we’re not chemists, we’re artists, and oh, the art that’s been created with neon.
Neon art emerged in the 1950’s and experienced a resurgence in the 1980’s, but modern neon artists, including Dan Flavin, Robert Irwin, and Tracey Emin abound. These artists use neon to create self-contained imagery, highlight other artistic works, create abstract and industrial pieces, and so much more.
As with all art forms, specializations have surfaced, like the text-based neon art of masters Bruce Nauman, Joseph Kosuth, Jung Lee, and Patrick Martinez. These artists use neon to create compelling artistic messages using actual text.
Your students can replicate the text-based neon art of these creative artists with the Sign In and Shine On: Neon Verbs in the Art Room lesson plan. First they’ll study the works of various neon artists. Next, they’ll select an action verb to design in faux neon – you’ll encourage meaningful, thought-provoking words like “dream”, “breathe”, “live”, etc. They’ll practice writing their word, exploring the use of line, balance, and symmetry and experimenting in both cursive and block printing. Once the sketches are complete, students will create their word in wire, wrapping it with masking tape to thicken and strengthen it, then wrapping it in brightly colored yarn to create the illusion of neon when mounted on black foam board.
Make your lessons – and your classroom – glow with this modern project sure to light up your students’ creativity. Click to view this lesson plan, including step-by-step instructions, a complete materials list, and a photo of a finished piece.
For grades 9-12.