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LIC Artists Team Up With Local Plastics Factory for New Exhibit

 One of the works in last year's exhibit.
One of the works in last year's exhibit.
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Steve Speliotis for the Long Island City Arts Open

HUNTERS POINT — A group of artists are working with a longtime local manufacturer to create sculptures with plastic processed at the company's nearby factory — works that will be featured in an exhibit during LIC Arts Open, the neighborhood's annual art fest.

"Plastique Deux" will open Friday in a gallery space near the Long Island City waterfront, featuring pieces by 10 artists that were created using thermoforming, a process that involves heating sheets of plastic until they're pliable enough to shape.

The technique was pioneered by Plaxall, a company that's been making plastic packaging from its factory on 46th Avenue and 5th Street for the last several decades.

The artists in the show worked with the company's engineers and used its machinery to create their works. This is the second year Plaxall has lent its technology for the exhibit, which was curated by artist William Garrett.

"All of the artists from last year and this year were in part picked because plastic is really outside the materials that they've worked with," said Lisa DiClerico, a mixed media artist who has an installation in the upcoming show.

She created plaster molds of pillows that she brought to Plaxall, which used them to create plastic versions with their equipment.

"They have rolls of plastic that are put into a machine, and it's heated from above, and then using the heat and pressure of some sort and a vacuum, it pulls the plastic over a form and it takes that shape," DiClerico explained. "It's really very cool."

Plastique Two of the pieces from the 2016 show. (Credit: Steve Speliotis for the Long Island City Arts Open)

Her plastic pillows will be part of an installation similar to one she created last year, which will also feature antique furniture on loan from a well-known fine arts collector.

Other artists in the show mined Plaxall's inventory of existing plastic containers — used for packaging items like make-up or medical equipment — and repurposed them into their own sculptures.

"It's really interesting to think about how much design and engineering goes into these objects," DiClerico said.

In a statement, Plaxall said it's a "thrill" to see artists adapt their technology.

"Plaxall is proud to open our factory to local artists in Long Island City for a second year, and to encourage collaboration between longtime businesses and the neighborhood's burgeoning art scene,” said Paula Kirby, the company's managing director.

"Plastique Deux" will open with a reception Friday from 6 to 10 p.m. in the former Jeffrey Deitch Gallery space at the Anable Basin Bar and Grill at 4-40 44th Drive. The show will be on view each day from noon to 9:00 p.m. until May 25.