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Frieze New York 2023

How a New Virgil Abloh Limited Edition Can Fight the Housing Crisis

The late designer’s is one of 40 plates launching at Frieze New York by the Artist Plate Project, raising funds for Coalition for the Homeless

BY Nora Foster in Frieze New York , Frieze Week Magazine | 15 MAY 23

More people are homeless in New York City now than at any time in history since the Great Depression. This dire statistic is reported by the Coalition for the Homeless, whose analysis of shelter census reports from the NYC Department of Homeless Services and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development finds 72,000 people slept in the city’s shelter system in January of this year: nearly 23,000 of them children.

The Coalition for the Homeless, the oldest advocacy and direct service organization in the US, is dedicated to helping individuals and families experiencing homelessness, providing more than one million New Yorkers with a way off the streets since its inception in 1981.

Alice Neel Ian and Mary, 1971 Supported by David Zwirner © The Estate of Alice Neel Courtesy The Estate of Alice Neel and David Zwirner
Alice Neel, Ian and Mary, 1971. Limited edition plate for Artist Plate Project. Supported by David Zwirner. Courtesy: The Estate of Alice Neel and David Zwirner © The Estate of Alice Neel

One major source of funding was the organization’s annual gala, ArtWalk NY. When COVID-19 made such events unfeasible in 2020, a new lifeline arose in the form of the Artist Plate Project, founded and curated by consultant and advisor Michelle Hellman.

A partner of the New York gallery A Hug From The Art World, and a member of the Coalition’s advisory board, Hellman had noted the success of a limited-edition plate produced for the 2019 gala by artist Katherine Bernhardt. ‘In lieu of yet another virtual auction,’ she told the Art Newspaper in 2020, ‘the idea popped into my head.’ Why not extend the effort, inviting more leading contemporary artists to create their own limited-edition plates, whose sales would directly benefit the homeless? Produced by Prospect, the first series included plates by Derrick Adams and Cecily Brown, among others. The project has reportedly raised over US$4.5 million for the Coalition.

"Albert Oehlen Untitled, 2019 © Albert Oehlen  Supported by Gagosian Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian
Albert Oehlen, Untitled, 2019. Limited edition plate for Artist Plate Project. Supported by Gagosian.  Courtesy: the artist and Gagosian © Albert Oehlen

At Frieze New York 2023, the Artist Plate Project will launch over 40 new limited-edition plates by world renowned artists including Virgil Abloh, Ed Ruscha, Lorna Simpson and Hank Willis Thomas. Funds raised will directly benefit the Coalition for the Homeless, providing food, crisis services, housing and other critical aid to thousands of people experiencing homelessness and instability. Each artist’s dinner plate is an edition of 250 priced at just US$250, meaning the purchase of one plate can feed up to 100 individuals.

Amoako Boafo Monstera Leaf Sleeves, 2021 Supported by Roberts Projects
Amoako Boafo, Monstera Leaf Sleeves, 2021. Limited edition plate for Artist Plate Project. Supported by Roberts Projects.

In the Coalition for the Homeless’s view, the solution to homelessness in the city must be systemic: their 2022 State of the Homeless report urges attention to improved shelters, mental health services and, crucially, affordable housing—which, along with sufficient food and the chance to work for a living wage, they hold to be ‘fundamental rights in a civilized society.’ In the meantime, we can all play our part — simply by purchasing an artist plate, you’ll help provide lifesaving relief to thousands of New Yorkers in need each and every day.

Visit the Artist Plate Project’s presentation on the 2nd Floor at Frieze New York or online at ArtwareEditions.com.


This article first appeared in Frieze Week, May 2023 under the headline ‘Dinner Service’

Main image: Virgil Abloh, Life Itself, 2021. Limited edition plate for Artist Plate Project. Supported by the Abloh Family.