Glow: Neon and Light

Karl and Bertl Arnstein Galleries
September 21, 2024 - February 9, 2025

GLOW: Neon & Light opens in the Akron Art Museum’s Arnstein Galleries on September 21. Showcasing artists who use analog materials like glass, mirrors, light bulbs, and neon tubes, the galleries will be filled with spectacular and immersive works. Rather than the text-based artworks typically associated with neon, this exhibition will instead feature sculptural installations, brightening the walls, floor, and ceiling with three dimensional explorations of light. Visitors will learn more about light’s scientific properties, including the different chemical elements—like neon and argon— that illuminate when inserted into electrified glass tubes. Many questions will be posed to viewers: How do the material and physical properties of each type of light function in three-dimensional space? When light is enclosed in glass tubes, does it still project beyond the limits of its container? How does color affect our perception and experiences? How do context and interpretation change when you look at a neon light in a storefront versus an art museum?

Although every work of art in the show will include an element of light, the conceptual ideas and visual styles will range from minimalist to maximalist. Some artists in the exhibition juxtapose lights with different materials, like wood, fractured glass, mirrors, and even the interiors of VHS tape cassettes. Some bend their own glass to create neon objects, some work with special manufacturers, and others recycle commercial neon and found objects. This group exhibition will feature works by Sarah Blood, Jeffry Chiplis, Mona Hatoum, Keith Lemley, Iván Navarro, Keith Sonnier, and others.