Kim Abeles is an artist whose artworks explore biography, geography, feminism, and the environment. Her work speaks to society, science literacy, and civic engagement, creating projects with the California Science Center, health clinics and mental health departments, and the National Park Service. Her collaborations with air pollution control agencies involve images from the smog, and largescale projects with natural history museums in California, Colorado and Florida incorporate specimens ranging from lichen to nudibranchs. In 1987, she innovated a method to create images from the smog in the air, and Smog Collectors brought her work to national and international attention. National Endowment for the Arts funded two recent projects: as artist-in-residence at the Institute of Forest Genetics she focused on Resilience; and, Valises for Camp Ground: Arts, Corrections, and Fire Management in the Santa Monica Mountains were made in collaboration with Camp 13, a group of female prison inmates stationed in the Santa Monica Mountains who fight wildfires. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts, California Community Foundation and Pollack-Krasner Foundation. Her work is in forty public collections including MOCA, LACMA, Berkeley Art Museum, Brooklyn Museum, California African American Museum, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. Abeles’ process documents are archived at the Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art.
Valises for Camp Ground: Arts, Corrections, and Fire Management in the Santa Monica Mountains Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, and led by The Armory Center for the Arts
The sculptural and instructional valises were created for use by the National Park Service and the Los Angeles County Fire Department to teach about fire prevention, national forests, and our relationship to nature. Each valise has a theme with specific talking points, and all of them circle back toward teaching issues about fire abatement and our connection to wilderness. These are taken to community groups, events, and venues to be used as teaching tools.
The female inmates at Camp 13 who have been trained as firefighters supplied the content for the valises through their experiences with firefighting and fire abatement methods. The process was organic in the sense that there was a two-way conversation between Kim Abeles as artist-in-residence and the inmates regarding the development of the valises. Along with the talking points, the firefighters also responded to the artistic, content-driven outcomes. Participants worked alongside as well as with the artist on the elements of the valises.
Americans for the Arts honored the project that embedded Abeles in Los Angeles County Fire Department's Malibu Conservation Camp #13. You can link to the award information here.
SOLO AND GROUP EXHIBITIONS IN 2020
Please check venue websites for postponements due to COVID-19
Kim Abeles: Smog Collectors, 1987-2020, Curated by Jennifer Frias, Nicholas and Lee Begovich Gallery, California State University Fullerton will be postponed due to COVID-19. We'll keep you posted on new dates. Link to the press release
Kim Abeles - A Survey, Curated by Michele Ellis Pracy, Fresno Art Museum, Fresno, CA; July 25, 2020 to January 10, 2021 Catalogue with an essay by Karen Moss Link to info
Endangered: Exploring California's Changing Ecosystems, Curated by Danielle Susalla Deery, California Center for the Arts, Escondido; January 11 – March 8, 2020
50.100.2020 is an exhibition and workshop series organized by Kim Abeles and informed by two meaningful anniversaries during a year that also holds an urgent presidential election. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary for Earth Day, and the 100th anniversary for the 19th Amendment. The exhibit at Keystone Art Studios Gallery, an installation constructed as a timeline marking notable occurrences, activist artworks, and writings that reference specific events. Workshops during the exhibit are intended to activate the space and generate activism in its many forms: a mixed materials workshop led by Kim Abeles, Suvan Geer, and Sandra Mueller; and, a writing workshop led by Nancy Spiller.
What is it about Trees, Curated by Susanna Meiers, El Camino College Art Gallery, Torrance, CA; February 18 - March 12, 2020
Access, Curated by Ani Ohanessian, Ara Oshagan and Anahid Oshagan, ReflectSpace Gallery, Glendale CA (Catalogue); January 31 - March 15, 2020 Link to LA Weekly article about ReflectSpace
Carte Blanche, Curated by José Lozano, Avenue 50 Studio, Highland Park, CA; February 8 - March 21, 2020
2019-20 Lands of Promise and Peril: Geographies of California, Curated by UC Berkeley students, University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive; December 11, 2019–April 26, 2020
Nearly thirty years since the Presidential Commemorative Smog Plates, Abeles revisits her Smog Collectors to address the current state of our environmental crisis, globally. The latest of the series depicts ten world leaders who presented speeches at world climate summits from 2011 to 2018. The quotes are written on the plates in the language originally presented. Stenciled plates collected smog in Moscow, Paris, Washington D.C., London, Ottawa, London, and Los Angeles. World Leaders in Smog was created in collaboration with the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, for their exhibition, "The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100", curated by Snejana Krasteva and Ekaterina Lazareva.
GROUP EXHIBITIONS in 2019
The Coming World: Ecology as the New Politics 2030–2100, Curated by Snejana Krasteva and Ekaterina Lazareva, Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia
World Leaders in Smog will be on view at Expo Chicago, September 19-22, 2019. This special exhibition and panel discussion is sponsored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow.
Made in California: Art and Photographic Portraits of Artists by Wayne Shimabukuro, Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art, California State University San Bernardino (catalogue)
Documenting Change: Our Climate, Curated by Erin Espelie, University of Colorado Art Museum, Boulder
Altered States, Curated by Heather Marx, Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA
In the Sunshine of Neglect: Defining Photographs and Radical Experiments in Inland Southern California, 1945 to the Present, Curated by Douglas McCulloh, California Museum of Photography and Riverside Art Museum (catalog)
Call and Response, When We Say…You Say, Curated by Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz of Slanguage, California State University Long Beach Art Museum
School for Endurance Work, Curated by Carole Frances Lung and Consulting Curator Carol Cheh, California State University Los Angeles Fine Art Gallery (catalog)
Disclosure: Confessions for Modern Times, Curated by Dani Dodge and Alanna Marcelletti, Durden and Rey, Los Angeles
Artist Couples, Curated by Trevor Norris, Long Beach City College Art Gallery
Kitsch-In-Sync: Art and Its Opposite, Curated by Bradford J Salamon Coastline Community College Art Gallery, Newport Beach (catalog)
Unfrozen, Curated by Randi Matushevitz, Substrate Gallery, Los Angeles