Hans Schmitt-Matzen on his works in Cannonball Run III

John's Shark

John is my three-year-old son and he is an artist. He prefers to work in his Lightning McQueen underpants executing simple pen and ink gestures on paper. He is self-taught and rather prolific.

One afternoon while visiting my son's studio table, I found myself reflecting on questions I have found perplexing for over a decade. How do artistic gestures arrive at their meanings? What roles do training and experience play in engendering meaning in a mark? How do such simple forms appear to be complete ideas? Is there a language of marks that is innate for us?

John's Tyrannosaurus Rex

I thought about how easy it can be for adults to dismiss children's early abstract artworks. In the past I have been guilty of not giving the work of young artists as much time and attention as they may deserve. I wanted to translate some of John's best drawings into a grander medium that made his forms more difficult to neglect. Neon signs are a medium designed for making bold announcements in the public sphere, and they are nearly impossible to ignore. I have always loved the way neon tubes appear to harness light, I view neon works as non-objects that instead reveal themselves as a delicate and ephemeral ether. These connotations made the neon medium a poetic choice for me.