The year for neon

Leticia Maldonado on her love for neon, music and art.

At Bose, we believe sound has power. The power to inspire, the power to motivate, the power to transform. We believe music not only emboldens us to follow our passions, but it also helps us to grow them. That’s why we’re celebrating those who use music to keep pushing and featuring their stories. In this article, we talk with Leticia Maldonado about what neon glass blowing means to her and how music helps take it to another level.

“I grew up in Las Vegas. I’ve always been fascinated with neon and the glowing lights”.

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Leticia Maldonado is a multimedia artist who specialises in neon glass, a media which allured her from a young age. “I grew up in Las Vegas”, Leticia says. “I’ve always been fascinated with neon and the glowing lights. My background is in illustration. And after a while, it occurred to me that neon was essentially like illustration, but in fire, and that was very attractive to me”.

Leticia’s work ranges from metaphorical self-portraits to neon sculptures honouring Las Vegas showgirls. The work that goes into each piece brings together many elements and highly technical skills that Leticia has perfected over the years.

“It all starts with a drawing and a design”, Leticia says. “Then you move into actual glasswork. When you’re processing, you’re using high voltage to burn out any impurities inside the glass. Then you have to create a vacuum inside the unit and process it for illumination. So you’re at less than atmospheric pressure, and you’re using noble gases. You insert those in the tube. There’s six different noble gases that are commonly used. Once the gas is inside, you introduce electricity. And as the electricity moves through this super-specialised chamber, it disrupts the photons inside and creates illumination. Then there’s also the fabrication of the backgrounds, which could be working with wood or plexiglass. So it brings together like a lot of different elements to make a finished piece”.

“The meaning of my art, for me, is just like a way to cope with and process the world”.

“If you really need to concentrate and get in the flow state, you need headphones”.

For Leticia, her art is many things: a way to connect with others, a form of self-expression and most of all, a way to process the world. “I feel like our world just has a lot of layers of different worlds on top of each other”, Leticia says. “And as you move through your city or your community, there’s so much that you encounter and sometimes making art is the only way I can process all that. I’m also looking to find whatever beauty I can find and then try to express and present that in a way that’s helpful for someone else”.

“I’m often in a space when I’m sharing it with other makers”, Leticia says. “I was in one space where there were several other artists. There’s a woodworker, a painter, a sculptor. It was just a very loud, noisy space. In a place like that, headphones are invaluable, because you could never turn up a speaker loud enough to drown all that out. If you really need to concentrate and get in the flow state, you need headphones”.

“I’ll find the jam for the day and I’ll listen to it on repeat”.

For Leticia, it’s not just about drowning out the distractions around her; it’s about tapping into something deeper. “When I’ve got the right song on, it helps me achieve the right mental space to really connect with my medium, and I get to be in that flow state”, Leticia says. “It’s just a super-satisfying feeling, like the medium in front of me is reflecting how I feel on the inside. And I’m not looking at my piece thinking that I wish something was different. It’s like I’m having a conversation with what I’m doing. And the medium is reflecting back at me what I’m trying to say. That’s a super-satisfying place and definitely music helps me get to that spot. I’ll find the jam for the day, and I’ll listen to it on repeat, so that I don’t disrupt what I’m doing. I might hear that one song like 30 times, and that’s fine”.

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