Long Island City artists use decades-old thermoforming process to create artwork

Photos courtesy of William Garrett

As part of Queens’ largest art festival, seven artists will explore making art with plastic.

The LIC Arts Open will take over more than 60 venues in Long Island City including Plaxall, a plastics manufacturing building where real-estate developer Louis Pfohl created the thermoforming process. Seven artists will use this process – where a plastic sheet is heated to become pliable, formed to a specific shape in a mold and trimmed – to create new work.

These artists are photographers, sculptures, painters and neon designers but will step out of their comfort zone to wok with a process created in 1938.

“Plaxall has always been a proud supporter of the LIC Arts Open, and we are so pleased that this year we are collaborating directly with the artists in the actual production of their artwork,” said Paula Kirby, Plaxall managing director. “Our grandfather would be happy and thrilled to know that the method of forming plastic that he invented – thermoforming – is still very much in use today at a global level and is being used so creatively by the art community here in Long Island City.”

Long Island City artists Lisa Diclerico, Kenny Greenberg, Donna Levinstone, Jean-Marie Guyaux, John Long and William Garrett will showcase their work.

Lisa DiClerico, a painter, has created a plaster mold of a pillow and uses the thermoforming process to add details. Other artists have used the process to create intricate signs.

William Garrett, an artist and the curator of the show, said the challenge of working with a completely new medium is exciting for these artists.

“It’s a rare opportunity to mesh Long Island City’s industrial manufacturing with the local thriving art scene,” Garrett said. “As an artist, to step out of one’s comfort zone and experiment with an entirely different creative and manufacturing process, brings new excitement to the work. The generous involvement of the artists and Plaxall’s management and staff add fuel to this new creative process.”

The exhibit, titled “Plastique,” will be shown in the former Jeffrey Deitch Gallery at the Anable Basin Bar & Grill, located at 4-40 44th Dr. The opening reception will take place on May 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. The show will be on view through May 22nd from noon until 9 p.m. daily.

Watch the thermoforming process here: