Biography

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.

Link to Abeles' complete resume

Self-portrait (Pope Joan)
Self-portrait (Pope Joan)
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 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.

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.

Link to description of project and images of all ten valises

Link to Liz Ohanesian's article in Los Angeles Magazine, "This Artist Enlisted Female Inmate Firefighters for a Show about Our Fragile Environment."

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.

And link here for a blog post written by Abeles for the American for the Arts.

Valise 5 - Abatement
Valise 5 - Abatement

SOLO EXHIBITIONS IN 2021

Kim Abeles: Smog Collectors, 1987-2020, Curated by Jennifer Frias, Nicholas and Lee Begovich Gallery, California State University Fullerton; Fall 2021 Catalogue with essays by William Fox and Karen Moss 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

GROUP EXHIBITIONS IN 2020

Common Ground, Curated by Suvan Geer and Sandra Mueller; Embed Gallery, Chatsworth, CA; October 3 - November 14, 2020 Link to info and free online events

Endangered: Exploring California's Changing Ecosystems, Curated by Danielle Susalla Deery, California Center for the Arts, Escondido; January 11 – March 8, 2020

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

World Leaders in Smog (2019)
World Leaders in Smog (2019)

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

A Mile a Minute (LA to Del Mar as Seen from a Moving Train) (1986); on view in the exhibit curated by Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz of Slanguage, "Call and Response, When We Say…You Say", at the California State University Long Beach Art Museum. Collection of CSULB Museum of Art
A Mile a Minute (LA to Del Mar as Seen from a Moving Train) (1986); on view in the exhibit curated by Mario Ybarra Jr. and Karla Diaz of Slanguage, "Call and Response, When We Say…You Say", at the California State University Long Beach Art Museum. Collection of CSULB Museum of Art
Self-Portraits with Files (1995/2020); on view in the exhibit, Access, curated by Ani Ohanessian, Ara Oshagan and Anahid Oshagan at ReflectSpace
Gallery, Glendale CA
Self-Portraits with Files (1995/2020); on view in the exhibit, Access, curated by Ani Ohanessian, Ara Oshagan and Anahid Oshagan at ReflectSpace Gallery, Glendale CA
IE_art and cake photo