"She Bends: Redefining Neon Legacy" Artist Statements: Carissa Grace on "Comforter"

Photo courtesy of the artist.

Neon is a master-apprentice trade; those holding the knowledge control to whom it is passed. Our upcoming exhibition, She Bends: Redefining Neon Legacy, tells the story of this evolution playing out in real time, as custodians of the craft become more intentional with how, and to whom, they pass their torches. 

Carissa Grace is a light and sculpture artist from Saratoga Springs, New York. She studied at Alfred University and completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2019. Currently, Grace is working in California as a glass manufacturing engineer. Since the completion of her BFA, she has been exhibited in Exhibit A during the Corning Museum of Glass’s annual Glass Fest, as well as in the She Bends exhibition in Loveland, Colorado. Grace was taught by Sarah Blood.

Carissa Grace (American, born 1997). Comforter, 2019. Argon, glass tubing, and transformers. 108 x 96 x 24 in. Photo courtesy of the artist.

She Bends: Tell us about your work in this exhibition.

Carissa Grace: My work questions the relationship between authenticity and imagination through the use of light and relevant materials. I recreate memories using light as a primary component in my work because it mimics the complex qualities that memories possess while providing a bridge to the unseen. The basic building blocks in everyday day life are familiar territory that narrate our fragmented memories but are often skewed and distorted with time. This inevitable change is often subconscious. Simplification and repetition in my practice assist in narrowing the evolution of these changes to single components. I gain a sense of control and comfort by being able to form these memories into visible objects.

SB: What motivates you? What are you trying to achieve through your work? 

CG: I am motivated by everyday life, especially the objects that define our environment. To me, these hold a key to our recollection of memory and construct the space by which we are consumed. In my work, I seek the ability to make memories tangible in their current state to prevent the subconscious from further altering our past. By using recognizable textures and familiar forms, I attempt to establish a common ground among viewers. 

SB: How did you begin working on this type of series or art in general?  

CG: This piece of work was created during my last year as an undergrad student for my thesis under my advisor, Professor Sarah Blood. I began working on dimensional and sculptural work a few years prior and was drawn to the sensation that neon embodied. The different colors of light illuminating a room were mesmerizing and encapsulating. I felt that neon light held power and space in a euphoric way. 

SB: Who has influenced you as an artist?  

CG: My work is heavily influenced by my relationships with those closest to me at the time of creation, as well as those who have created before me. Mentors and colleagues are the biggest factors that have influenced my work throughout my career. I thrive on a difference of opinion and critical questioning to bring me concrete answers within myself and for reasoning my intentions. 

She Bends: Redefining Neon Legacy opens at Museum of Glass on February 11.