Curated by artist and neon bender herself, Meryl Pataky, She Bends: Women in Neon, is an exhibition of female identifying neon benders from around the globe. With an emphasis on craft, artistry and the hand-made, these artist work start to finish with neon to bring their concepts to life. Hailed as “revolutionary” by Juxtapose, She Bends has since shown in numerous cities around the US. Along with being a traveling exhibition, She Bends provides workshops, financial assistance and mentorship to promising artists looking to take up the craft.
This is Var Wests biggest show yet in both numbers (25 artists) and prestige. She Bends is brining several pioneers in both the trade and visual arts forefront including Meryl Pataky herself.
Exhibiting artists go as follows:
Sarah Blood, Brooke Barttelbort, Dani Bonnet, Robin Clason, Eve De Haan, Teresa Escobar, Ali Feeney, Emma-Kate Hart, Eve Hoyt, Marjorie Inman, Danielle James, Kacie Lees, Stephanie Sara Lifshutz, Hannah Mace, Leticia Maldonado, Lily Reeves, Montgomery, Andrea Oleniczak, Amy Palms, Meryl Pataky, Linda Sue Price, Olivia Steele, Megan Stelljes, Harriet Schwarzrock
The artist exhibiting address a variety of topics from social constructs, language to current events. The pulsating electricity, the brilliant hues and the nostalgic evocations will transform the walls of VarWest as glass tubes are hand bent to write phrases, create abstract shapes and weave through sculptural installation. Each bender transcends the tradition of the commercial neon sign while masterfully maintaining the delicate craft and science of neon, an art that dates back to the 1850’s. The women exhibiting are causing a resurgence in the medium. They are reclaiming and improving the craft all while creating space for themselves and others to make as artists.
"I wanted to make it about females in a male-dominated industry making work themselves,” Meryl states, “I don’t want to see people who appropriate the medium because it’s trendy. I want women who bend, who actually work with this medium with their own two hands aside from just designing it. There’s so much more to neon that just design."
Meryl Pataky is an Oakland-based sculptor, and curator of SHE BENDS, whose own multidisciplinary approach combines neon with a variety of unexpected materials in a style described as “dystopian” and “anti-neon”. Meryl is originally from South Florida, and moved to San Francisco in 2002 to attend the Academy of Art University. She fell in love with the tactile nature of sculpture and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture.