Kim Abeles – Paper Person, 2009
Paper Person is a persona created from one day of paper-trash at Harvard-Westlake School. The figure’s size is based on the amount of paper thrown away in one day. Each year, the Harvard-Westlake visual arts department hosts a professional artist’s exhibit on its North Hollywood campus. In 2009, inspired by the school’s green initiative, Visual Arts Department Chair Cheri Gaulke contacted artist Kim Abeles, who has a reputation for exposing environmental issues via her work. Abeles also worked with students and teachers at the school to create art pieces that demonstrate the effects of human waste and consumption on the environment.
Over a period of five weekdays, Abeles went dumpster diving at Harvard-Westlake’s upper school to collect trash. She then cleaned, ironed and assembled the trash in her studio and transformed it into new artwork. More than one student discovered drafts of homework assignments comprising the Paper Person.
An Idea Called Tomorrow also marks the launch of Abeles’ website frugalworld.org. The website addresses practical, innovative and poetic responses to the human dilemma of desire for excess vs. the need for practicality. Kitchen-table and family-remedy advice are innovative solutions necessitated by small incomes. Art created within limitation expresses a desire to create a life acknowledging environmental and global responsibility.
Frugality is ever more important in a time of crisis ― political, social, cultural or economic. An investigation of frugality challenges preconceptions about individual economics. In our effort toward “green living”, isn’t the low-income bus rider making a more effective contribution than the owner of a new hybrid? Resources and consumption are global issues though people respond most often when limitations resonate with a personal effect.
frugalworld.org is available for viewing here in the exhibition, or online anytime. Viewers are encouraged to submit their own frugal tips. The site is divided into four sections:
thinking something is nothing
something from something
interactions among earthlings
This artwork and ideas in frugalworld.org seek to address the details of being frugal, the broader implications, with a balance of practicality and metaphor.
Kim Abeles is an artist who crosses disciplines and media to explore and map the urban environment and chronicle broad social issues. The Smog Collector series brought her work to national and international attention in the art world and mainstream sources. Abeles has exhibited with a unique range of collaborators such as the Bureau of Automotive Repair, Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project, California Science Center, and Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. A mid-career survey sponsored by the Fellows of Contemporary Art for the Santa Monica Museum, Kim Abeles: Encyclopedia Persona A-Z, toured the United States, and South America through the United State Information Agency. She continues to exhibit internationally, including projects in Vietnam, Thailand, Czech Republic, U.K., and China. She represented the U.S. in both the Fotografie Biennale Rotterdam and the Cultural Centre of Berchem in Antwerp. Abeles has received fellowships from J. Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts and the Pollack-Krasner Foundation.