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Meet Jess Krichelle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Krichelle.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jess. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My creative process has always been about exploration, experimentation, and transformation. Neon bridges the space between art and chemistry, the artificial and organic, and has been a humbling art form to pursue because of its unruly chaos. I wouldn’t be able to practice this art form if it weren’t for my mentor, Michael Flechtner and the Museum of Neon Art (where I currently work and am provided studio space). Before that, I took a fabrication and design course with Lili Lakich in her studio located in the Arts District.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Glass, noble gases, and the light that emits from these electrically charged tubes is my muse; but also my enemy, as my struggles with learning techniques can always be quite arduous. My mind always moves faster than my technical abilities allow, which can prevent me from completing my projects. It can be months of focusing on my craftsmanship before I allow myself the opportunity to tackle a project. I believe it took me a year and a half into my apprenticeship before I released any neon artwork into the world.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m a tube bender, the term the neon community uses for those that practice the art of bending glass to a pattern. Unlike glassblowers, tube benders work with hollowed glass tubes made with a wide spectrum of diameters and colors to choose from. After mapping a reverse pattern of a desired design, we will then heat up the glass over a fire and begin to shape the glass to said pattern. Once this step is complete we then process (or ‘bombard’) our units –– this requires meticulous attention to detail, patience, and knowledge. Bombarding is the part of the process where we can actually select the noble gas that goes inside of the tube. Then––we light it up with high voltage electricity.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
I can proudly say that I participated in my very first She Bends show at the beginning of the year in Loveland, Colorado. Meryl Pataky, the founder of She Bends, has been such a power force for us womxn in the neon community and has been a pioneer at paving the path forward for us.

At the moment, I’m most excited about my collaborations including technologies such as 3D printing and laser etching––there’s unmatched strength in collaboration, I think.

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