Carl Lynnwood Shapiro was a brilliant chemist and inventor.  For a while, he was a startlingly successful businessman. On top of that, he had a keen aesthetic sense and made beautiful plastic sculptures.

Carl Shapiro was also my grandfather.

Carl began his career as a chemist for one of the largest companies of the era but was soon told that to ascend the company’s ranks, he would need to hide the fact that he was Jewish and it was even suggested that he change his name. Fiercely independent, Carl left the company and struck out on his own.

Before long, his plastics manufacturing firm afforded him a Gatsby-esque estate on Long Island.  Eventually, however, the business failed.  Carl continued designing and making stunning plastic sculptures and jewelry that he hoped would return him to industrial greatness.

My grandfather died when I was two years old and I have no memory of him but these sculptures have always been a part of my life. Some of my earliest memories include gazing at the beautiful translucent cubes that lined my parents’ shelves or the mysterious obelisks on display in my Aunt’s house.

This film showcases my grandfather’s forgotten creations. Today, plastics are not seen as innovative. Today’s viewers don’t understand the signficance of The Graduate’s  iconic dialogue line “One word: Plastics.”  Plastic was like the AI of my grandfather’s generation and he was not only a groundbreaking scientist but also made beautiful art that deserves to be remembered.

My cousin, Robert Intriligator (another of Carl’s grandsons), composed the music in this video, his own contribution to this testament to our grandfather.

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