Lillian Freedgood

Dublin Core

Title

Lillian Freedgood

Source

https://www.nytimes.com/1977/04/24/archives/new-jersey-weekly-avocado-pits-reincarnated.html

Person Item Type Metadata

Biography

An ingenious New Jerseyan has transformed the lowly avocado pit into a work of art. Lillian Freedgood, a talented painter from West New York, has assembled a small but enviable collection of sculpture fashioned from avocado pits.
“I've been at it for 10 years, but I don't do it as a full‐time occupation,” Mrs. Freedgood said. “1 watch TV and do this at the same time. Consequently, I see little television, but I hear a lot.”
Using etching and wood‐carving tools, surgical knives and dental instruments, she carves the dried pits, integrating the warp into the individual design.
She has finished about 20 pieces, ranging from the figure of a woman, made out of five different pits glued together, to a miniature full‐figure nude with an ebony finish.
A graduate of Pratt Institute, Mrs. Freedgood studied at the New York Art Students League and at the Graphic Arts Center. She has also written books on art, among them “An Enduring Image, American Painting from 1665” and “Great Artists of America,” a series of 15 biographies of artists from Gilbert Stuart to Jackson Pollock.
“One of the advantages of working in so small a medium is that I can take it with me wherever I go and there's always room for it in the house,” Mrs. Freedgood said, producing a wicker basket in which she carries her tools, the work in progress and a supply of Band‐Aids essential to so detailed an undertaking.
A small woman, with bright blue eyes, she lives with her husband, Morton Freedgood (the author of “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” and of “The Talisman” under the pseudonym of John Godey), in a spacious apartment on a high floor facing the New York skyline. In her refrigerator is a bag of avocado pits—her own and those supplied by friends who save them for her.
“The pits must dry naturally before you can work with them,” Mrs. Freedgood explained, adding that the pits then become brittle. “I have trouble with pieces that are always breaking off.”
Sometimes a pit will be full of cracks, which is a great nuisance, she said. “I have to add pieces and I don't like to redo a piece once I'm done with it,” she continued. “The etching is very difficult for the eyes and does require terribly good eyesight, which I lack since one eye is nearsighted and the other farsighted.”
Mrs. Freedgood can spend several months on a single piece and, although friends have asked to buy individual pieces, she has refused to sell them.
“They're like my children,” she said, shrugging. “I wouldn't know which one to part with first.”
Mrs. Freedgood got the idea for the avocado‐pit sculptures after seeing carvings done by sailors on display number of years ago at the Seamen's Institute in New York.
“I discussed it with my dentist, who is a frustrated artist, and he encouraged me to try, even providing me with dental tools that are made of hard steel and have fine enough points for this kind of work,” she said.
The same dentist was so taken with one of the heads she carved that he had it cast in silver for her.
“The laboratory technicians must have wondered, What kind of a funny tooth is this?'” Mrs. Freedgood said.
Avocado pits sometimes dry darker on one side than on the other, so that one side may become more prominent, she explained.
“The only drawback to the work is that people, tend to think I must be some kind of crazy little old lady when they hear that I carve things out of avocado pits,” Mrs. Freedgood said with a grin, picking up a piece of Lucite on which 18 miniature masks and two hands were mounted.
Both family members and friends have urged her to put the collection on display. Mrs. Freedgood says evasively that she will when the time right, and then she looks protectively at the pieces.
Meanwhile, she is absorbed in illustrations that she is doing for a book on Indian folklore, “Indian Indian,” as she describes it.
“I vow each time I finish one of the pieces of sculpture that the next time the medium will be marble or something bigger,” she said, “but then another friend comes with a bag full of avocado pits—I sometimes have a refrigerator full of them—and I'm stuck.”

Collection

Citation

“Lillian Freedgood ,” Westport Public Schools Digital Collections, accessed December 9, 2019, https://collections.westportps.org/items/show/2181.

Item Relations

Item: Roman Church dcterms:creator This Item
Item: Pietà dcterms:creator This Item