Neon light boasts two primary identities: a jubilance that reflects the radiance of midday, and an evening persona of romance and excitement, wherein surging flickers of curved encapsulated candles intrigue passersby. Lisa Schulte, an American sculptor born in Long Island, New York, has mastered the many “faces” of neon, earning her the moniker, “The Neon Queen.”
A woman of German, Irish, and Spanish descent, Lisa has lived the majority of her life in Los Angeles, California, while working (in some capacity) with light. After a childhood eye injury left the artist in darkness for several months of healing, the then seven year old not only emerged re-gifted with sight, she now possessed a fierce appreciation of the nuanced interactions between light and dark.
Years later, in 1984, Lisa would discover innovation in her medium was a necessary step toward the realization of her conceptualized projects. Finding she possessed the talent to work with the medium, Lisa studied in Kansas under Master Neon Tube Bender Freddie Elliot, and her growing prowess sparked the beginnings of “Nights of Neon” – a (35-plus years running) Los Angeles neon studio and boutique creative space providing custom neon pieces for films, events, and branding.
After amassing experience and exposure, Lisa shifted her focus to envisioning and creating intricate, abstract designs often absent in neon, and for the last decade, Lisa has turned inward to create personal pieces she has exhibited in museums and fine art galleries nationwide. This includes work exploring the artist's passion for organic forms; work that provokes a broader dialogue pertaining to relativity and environmental adaptation. In a recent series, the artist externalized the metaphor of unity by pairing two disparate mediums - white neon and found wood - in a novel harmony; their differences highlighting the inherent beauty possessed by each. The artist is presently creating abstract pieces built from neon and wood.
In 2016, hybrid car company Karma Automotive, the embodiment of tech and nature, commissioned Lisa to create a sculpture that would capture the essence of their brand. The result, titled 'The Undefeated Spirit,' was a technically challenging sculpture comprised of curved wood and white neon, shaped to depict the car's aerodynamic lines.
Lisa Schulte has merged artistic genres by collaborating with contemporary artists such as RISK, Gregory Siff and Cleon Peterson. In 2017, working with illustrator Brendan Donnelly, the artist constructed a vibrant, celebratory neon sign for Bulleit Frontier Whiskey which is currently on display in downtown Los Angeles.