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The Plastic Forms of Freda Koblick

In November 1968, the Museum (then known as the Museum of Contemporary Crafts) presented Plastic Forms by Freda Koblick, a monographic exhibition of Freda Koblick’s cast acrylic sculpture. Inspired by “the mysterious ways of transparency,” Koblick was a pioneering artist of her time who applied her scientific training and experimental mindset toward of the use of plastic as a medium for artistic expression. This essay by Mimi Shorr was published in the exhibition’s catalog.

Freda Koblick's current work in plastic is the result of twenty-five years of exploring the material by submitting to the discipline of learning its behavior under various conditions, and by mastering the challenges presented by this medium of relatively unknown quantity. She believes that one must work directly in the material in order to realize its expressive potential. Her objective has always been the creation of forms derived organically from the material.

According to Miss Koblick, "Working with plastics, a dynamic relationship exists between the worker and the material." "The material itself is acting and changing while it is being acted upon, and so the moment of concept is extended in time." She has employed–and developed–a variety of techniques in her work, including complete castings from liquid acrylics, castings combined with solidified material used for inner or surface texture, and cutting solid material into forms which are then assembled and finished. The appearance of her work has changed as she has expanded the techniques at her disposal. New techniques make new forms inevitable, she believes, because in plastic, even more than in other materials, the finished work and the technique are a unity. The work has become increasingly dimensional over the years. It began as layered laminations, moved toward relief, then construction, and has recently included individual 3-dimensional sculptures. Prior to this time, her work has been almost exclusively for use in architectural settings.

Miss Koblick has always been fascinated by what she calls "the promise and the mystery of transparency" offered by plastics, and she has sought to explore that "world where the whole was at once visible and various — the outside skin, its inner surface, its interior mass — with all the reflections, refractions, distortions, magnifications, and diminutions that the material and its form allowed." The validity of a new material is established by its use by artists and craftsmen, according to Miss Koblick. Traditionally this acceptance has occurred after many centuries and through many hands; Freda Koblick's work has been a significant step toward the establishment of the new plastic materials as an art medium with its own identity and tradition.

Reprinted with permission from Plastic Forms by Freda Koblick published by the Museum of Contemporary Crafts, 1968. Copyright 1968 by the American Craft Council.

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