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News

Studio updates, current events, and archival posts from 2014-2017.

OVER A DECADE OF DREAMING

Dylan Neuwirth watches Kelsey Fernkopf bend glass at Western Neon’s studio in SoDo — image by Bruce Clayton Tom © 2017.

Dylan Neuwirth watches Kelsey Fernkopf bend glass at Western Neon’s studio in SoDo — image by Bruce Clayton Tom © 2017.

There’s no question that less and less people are learning how to work in this field,” Fernkopf says. “I hope we can provide access and opportunity to the next generation. Neon inspires a sense of wonder in so many people, and I’d like to see where they can go with that.
— Kelsey Fernkopf

André Lucero, the owner of Western Neon and my frequent collaborator, has for at least a decade talked about creating a school for teaching art classes centered around the medium of light. Earlier this year, Kelsey Fernkopf — a master level neon technician — approached us about the idea as well. Our ambitions are focused on not only a permanent home for these classes but the desire to share what we have all learned with the next generation of artists working with light-based media and beyond. Thus, the stars aligned, and after over ten years of dreaming, the Western Neon School of Art will open in January 2018.

Neon is a form of glass art, and we have hopes that Seattle can rise to be a major player in that world too.
— André Lucero

We plan to offer introductory to intermediate classes, solo instruction with a dedicated technician, open studio time, and exploratory sessions working in virtual reality. Our program will teach the necessary skills of pattern design, glass bending, cutting, and welding while working with essential tools such as the crossfire, ribbon burner, and hand torches. We will also offer local, national, and international artists residencies to create new work, instruct, and exhibit. With an equal emphasis on skills and aesthetics, the Visiting Artist Program will simultaneously engage with the creative community to incubate unforeseen ideas and foster new directions within the medium.

Neon has always been a medium that encapsulates visceral emotion,” Neuwirth says. “If our classes enable at least one person to discover that sense of mystery and absorb the skills to wield it in full, then that one person could potentially do anything with it.
— Dylan Neuwirth

The official Western Neon School of Art website goes live in mid-November — full article on the school and our collective trajectory, "The Future's So Bright" written by Rachel Gallaher for City Arts, can be found here.