World Renowned Artist and Humanitarian Dies

 

          Edna Plotkin, 97, born Edna Hibel, the first of two children, in 1917 in Chelsea, Massachusetts, to immigrant parents Abraham Bert and Lena Rubin Hibel, died recently.  During the past 45 years, Edna had lived and worked in her home in Palm Beach County, Florida. 

Edna discovered her artistic talent at age nine, and received international training under Irish, Greek, Russian, and German master artists.  A graduate in 1934 of Brookline High School, and the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts in 1939, Edna traveled and painted in Mexico under the auspices of the Ruth B. Sturtevant Traveling Fellowship from the Boston Museum School.  At 23, upon her return from Mexico, the acquisition of one of her paintings by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts made Edna at that time the youngest artist to have art purchased by a major American museum.  Also at that time, Edna married her high school sweetheart, Theodore Plotkin.  Until his death in 2012, Edna and Theodore had been married 72 years.

          Over the next 60 years, Edna Hibel attracted an international following for her oil paintings, frescoes. watercolors, stone lithographs, and work in porcelain.  Her exhibitions, spanning four continents, have been displayed in prominent museums, galleries, palaces, and universities in more than 20 countries, including ground-breaking exhibitions in the U.S., England, Sweden, the former Soviet Union, Japan, Germany, Israel, Costa Rica, and Brazil.  In 1986, Edna’s exhibition in the National Gallery in Beijing was the first by an American woman in The People’s Republic of China; and in 1988, more than 3,000 people attended her opening in the Dubrovnik Museum in the former Yugoslavia. 

          In 1977, more than 3,000 admirers visited the Hibel Museum of Art during its opening in Palm Beach, Florida.  Founded by Ethelbelle and Clayton Bion Craig, the Hibel Museum of Art—at the time the world's only non-profit, public institution dedicated to the art of a living American woman—has been housed since 2001 on the Jupiter Campus of Florida Atlantic University.

          Edna Hibel has been favorably compared by critics to Renaissance and Impressionist artists such as Michelangelo, Renoir, and Mary Cassatt.  Notes Thomi Wolfensberger, chief lithographer of Wolfensberger Studio in Zurich, Switzerland, "When it comes to stone lithography, no one even comes close to Edna Hibel.  There is Edna Hibel and then there is everyone else."

          Among Edna's major awards and recognitions are in 2001 being only the second American to receive the World Cultural Council's Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Art, a United Nations commission of a U.N. stamp, a U.S. National Archives commission commemorating the 75th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women universal suffrage, a personal introduction to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, a proclamation and medal from Pope Paul II, a citation and medal from King Albert Baudouin of Belgium, her induction into Germany’s Count Lennart Bernadotte's Order of the Green Apron, and a Cultural Award from the American Association of Museums for her documentary film, Hibel’s Russian Palette, broadcast to millions across the country. 

In addition, Edna has received six honorary doctorate degrees in various arts and letters,  the most by any artist.  For many years the Edna Hibel Society, founded by Sandra and Dr. E. Marshal Goldberg, and under the direction of Ralph Burg, was the world’s oldest artist fellowship. 

          Despite all her artistic achievements during nine decades of work, Edna was most proud of her humanitarian efforts, through which more than a million dollars has been raised for educational, health, and children's charities.  Many Jewish charities, including B’nai B’rith, Hadassah, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, have honored Edna for her charitable work. 

Edna leaves behind her three sons and daughters-in-law, seven grandchildren, and a great grandchild. 

            In lieu of flowers, tax deductible donations may be made to the Edna Hibel Plotkin Endowment Fund and sent to the Hibel Museum of Art, 5353 Parkside Drive, Jupiter, Florida 33458.   Admirers may also send their fondest memories of Edna Hibel Plotkin to edna@hibel.com.

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Contact for further information and photography: Richard Plotkin, Trustee, Hibel Museum of Art, (561) 844-5547, or Andy Plotkin, Ph.D., (561) 632-6568.  

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