Public Program

Sign of the Times: A Conversation on Neon and Chryssa

Step into the radiant world of neon art and dive into the technical intricacies of this captivating medium, pioneered by the artist, Chryssa. Join us for an engaging conversation exploring the intersection of technical mastery and artistry in neon, while also gaining insights into the conservation efforts needed to protect these vibrant creations for future generations.

Panel discussion participants include matt dilling, Creative Director of Lite Brite Neon Studio, Meryl Pataky, Founder of She Bends, Joy Bloser, Assistant Objects Conservator, The Menil Collection, and Dr. Tina Rivers Ryan.

About the speakers:

matt dilling is the founder of Lite Brite Neon Studio. They specialize in the production, conservation, and preservation of neon and luminous works of art.

About Lite Brite Neon: Lite Brite Neon Studio is a collective of craftspeople that specializes in the production of neon art, display, luminous visual props and architectural lighting through a collaborative approach. We seek to transform and transmit the power of light art and display as a viable medium to convey the mystical truths that surround us in everyday life.

Meryl Pataky is an artist, educator, curator and founder of She Bends, an organization that promotes women and gender non-conforming artists making their own neon art. Through the organization, she promotes stories from historically underrepresented artists in neon who are developing handcrafted techniques that elevate the medium to the level of process-driven sculpture. As an artist, Meryl focuses on the relationship between her hands and material. Her work is a physical meditation on the timeless spirituality of craft that centers and illuminates the power, the wisdom, and the force behind tacit knowledge and making.

About She Bends: She Bends is dedicated to building a more equitable future for neon through public education, curatorial projects, and artist programs that foster diversity and sustainability. They are pushing the boundaries of their medium beyond the confines of commercial signage into the realm of fine art.

Dr. Tina Rivers Ryan is a curator at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum and an internationally recognized expert on the history of art and technology. Her essay “Plug-In Promethean: Chryssa’s Neons and the Invention of Light Art in the 1960s” appears in the catalog for the Menil’s exhibition Chryssa in New York; the text focuses on the artist’s magnum opus The Gates to Times Square, 1964-66, which is on loan to the exhibition from the Buffalo AKG. Her own exhibitions include 2021’s Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art (winner of the 2022 Award of Excellence from the Association of Art Museum Curators) and 2022’s Peer to Peer (the first U.S. museum survey of artists working with blockchains). Her next exhibition, Electric Op, will examine the six-decade relationship between geometric abstraction and media art. Dr. Ryan holds five degrees in art history, including a BA from Harvard and PhD from Columbia, and in 2022 received an Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant and was named to Artnet’s Innovators List.

Joy Bloser is the Assistant Objects conservator at the Menil Collection, where she specializes in the care of contemporary art and treatment of polymeric materials. She is developing collective networks of care across institutions to address the long-term preservation of understudied artists like Chryssa and Niki de Saint Phalle.

Attending the program:

This program takes place in the main building, located at 1533 Sul Ross Street. Additional information regarding accessibility and parking can be found here.

As always, Menil programs are free and open to all.