Run-off Dolphin Suitcase
Detail (case only) 16"x64"x22"
Beach trash/storm drain run-off, welded steel, satin, mixed media
© Kim Abeles, 1995

Using trash picked up from Los Angeles beaches, artist Kim Abeles has created a sculpture depicting a dolphin. The sculpture is designed to tour schools to help children understand the effects of throwing trash into storm drains.

Entitled Run-off Dolphin Suitcase, the sculpture was part of a larger "Alters" exhibition held at the Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, in 1995, and supported by a grant from the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project.

Abeles collected trash washed up on Venice and Dockweiler State Beaches to construct the dolphin-shaped suitcase. Her goal was to educate people, particularly children, on the effects of run-off in Santa Monica Bay in order to convey a message of pollution prevention.

According to Heal the Bay, a local environmental group, nearly one hundred storm drains empty into Santa Monica Bay, spewing litter, plant debris, spilled oil, traces of rubber, asbestos and lead from cars, as well as herbicides and pesticides from lawns into the water. As a consequence, scientists have determined that dolphins and other animals suffer from infected wounds, stomach ulcers, parasitic infestations, pneumonia, tumors and other disorders. The Run-off Dolphin Suitcase sculpture puts the ethic of prevention - the value of preventing ocean pollution - into vividly concrete terms. The familiarity of garbage run-off art stimulates an assessment of one's own complicity and how to prevent future "run-off" pollution in the ocean and, by implication, to protect all of our natural environment.