Social Furniture

Beginning in the late 1970s, I created garments and furniture as a format to house ideas. Social Furniture begins with the structures that we know as well as we know our bodies.

In the recent works, sculptural furniture is an element in larger installations, many of them specific to locations and in some cases, created for audiences who were also participants. Largescale projects with natural history museums in California, Colorado, and Florida incorporate specimens ranging from lichen to nudibranchs.

A newly published comprehensive book, Kim Abeles: Social Furniture (1976 - 2023).
Poetry by Sesshu Foster, Beverly Lafontaine, and Taylor Graham. An introduction by Mika Cho, Curator and Director of the Ronald H. Silverman Fine Arts Gallery California State University, Los Angeles. Essays by Shana Nys Dambrot and Peter Frank. Book design by James P. Scott.
Link to pdf of the book. Printed copies are available for purchase.

Documents K-12 (2004) was created for "Through the Gates: Brown vs Board of Education" an exhibition curated by M.U.L.E.

Collection of the California African American Museum

Link to description and additional images




The Importance of Objects (The Natural History Museum Collection) (2005) was created by Kim Abeles for the exhibition, "Conversations", developed by the international museum executive, Vanda Vitali, for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Abeles collaborated with Jim Dines, Curator of Mammalogy; Kirk Fitzhugh, Curator of Polychaetes; Margaret Hardin, Curator of Ethnology; Kimball Garrett, Curator of Ornithology; Jody Martin, Curator of Crustacean); Angel Valdes, Curator of Malacology; and, Bill Wood, Curator of Anthropology.   Photo credit: Ken Marchionno

For the "Conversations" exhibit, poets were asked to respond to the artworks. Link to poet Sesshu Foster's writing in response to Abeles' sculptural table, The Importance of Objects.

Link to description and additional images

Inventory of specimen and objects


Imperial Shoeshine (1982); Photo credit: Chris Bliss

Link to a selection of early Social Furniture

OCC_sweet_dreams_9925 2

The video walls began with Sweet Dreams (2006) and involve video monitors that are embedded flush to the mural-size imagery. The multi-media installation, Sweet Dreams, combines sculpture, video, and digital imagery to create a baby's room that is inspired by the issues surrounding the landscape of the Sun Valley, Idaho. The room’s wallpaper is printed with scenes of the majestic mountains and vistas of Sun Valley, and small sections of the pattern are animated by video footage of the region. The nursery contains elements that portray Nature’s contradictions and the politics of unbridled beauty.

Originally commissioned for the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Sun Valley, Idaho

Link to more video walls (2006 - 2015)