Neon Light Artist Showing Future School Students The Tricks Of The Trade

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Creating neon lights is a fading trade, but local high school students are learning the craft for credit from a neon light artist who's been apart of the Unexpected Project.

"My internship (last) semester was with the Sebastian County Coroner's Office... I want to get my doctorate in pathology," Nicole Hill, 11-grader at Future School said.

This is her first year attending Future School. It is Fort Smith's first and only public charter high school. Students have the opportunity to spend Wednesdays doing internships, and she said she wants to pursue another talent in the spring semester.

"Since I was young, I've always wanted to be an artist," Hill said. "I usually just do photography and painting, but I thought this would be just a really cool change of pace, so I can discover all the things I'm interested in."

Hill will be interning with Brian Bailey. Bailey began neon art almost a decade ago.

"I was in a different field, and then I went through some hard times and then a guy came along and asked if I'd like to work in a sign business," Bailey explained.

In that line of work, he got a call from the organizers of the Unexpected Project. They needed help bending neon for international artist Doze Green.

"It was so exciting that afterwards I went away just with a whole [new] look at my trade, a whole [new] look that neon was art," Bailey said.

With this new inspiration, Brian came up with the Neon Revival Project.

"The influence something you can be prepared for is it's going to be Egyptian themed, and then it's going to have religious themes and then spiritual symbolism," he said.

He said he is looking forward to inspiring a new generation of artists, taking on two interns and more than a dozen volunteers.

"The most exciting thing probably for me is the fact that it could be a national sensation or something very controversial," student Jacob McLain said.

Bailey added, "What I really hope they take away is that they know anything is possible."

Bailey said the Neon Revival Project will be on display at this year's Peacemaker Music Festival in Fort Smith. It will be curated by HeART Arkansas. The internships will begin in two weeks.