Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

created to survive.(Art)

Byline: Wesley Pulkka For the Journal

Having to produce artwork for hostile environment pushed sculptor to new techniques

The air at the West Mesa Aquatic Center is not really that humid but Hilda Volkin's new "Aquatic Life" mobile does seem to swim through it.

"The eight-segment work was inspired by abstracted wave and water sculptural forms with the colors and textures of the sea. The organic forms sway and rotate to suggest underwater life and water," Volkin said on the phone. "One of the main challenges in designing the piece was the space itself, because the swimming pool is a chlorine environment that's highly corrosive."

Though she usually works with acrylic plastics that are quite easily cut into shapes and heat formed, Volkin selected clear polycarbonate plastic for the sculptural elements because it is routinely used for pool enclosures and is unaffected by chlorine gases. She says polycarbonate is strong and unbreakable but it is also a very difficult material to manipulate.

"I had to use a commercial facility to heat form each piece because my own studio equipment wasn't up to the challenge," Volkin said.

She said special molds and forming jigs had to be built for each unique element because the plastic would not naturally hold its shape while cooling. …

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