29 January 2018




Dan Lam, They're Kind of Small, 2015. Source.

After a series of failed blog post ideas, and feeling sufficiently overwhelmed by polarizing discourses on social media feeds, I found both distraction and awe in the sculptures of Dan Lam. The last few She’s My Muse posts have been heavy (but important), and I think we deserve to take a moment and smile at the fact that Dan Lam is killing it with these beautiful (and weird) sculptures.

Dan Lam, Keeping Trim, 2017. Source.

Dan Lam is a Philippines-born, Texas-based artist that explores non-traditional media and sculpture. She categorizes her work by “squishes”, “drips”, and “blobs”, and her more recent projects incorporate hand-placed Swarovski crystals. Lam’s sculptures have clever names that bring up associations of modern femininity—Legs for Days, Maneater, Youthful Glow. If you’re lucky, her shows may have cheeky gallery signs inviting visitors to “please touch me” in front of certain works. 

It baffles me how these sculptures made from polyurethane foam, acrylics, and resin are a tactile experience despite existing thousands of kilometers away. The longer I stare at these colourful and spiky blobs, the more it becomes clear that Lam’s work is more than a fun distraction. Her work provides valuable insight into constructions of beauty, touch, and the role of social media in our interactions with art.

Lam’s sculptures exist between beauty and ugliness, mixing a vibrant colour palette and alien-like shapes. The works are largely made of smooth foam, but the spiky details threaten pain. Despite the danger, we still want to touch them. Instead of confronting these oppositions in a gallery, I find myself staring at the sculptures on an Instagram feed.

A post shared by Dan Lam (@sopopomo) on

Lam explains that despite viewers being unable to touch her work through their devices, viewers still ask questions about the sculptures’ texture. This adds unpredictability and playfulness to the work, because the viewer is unaware if the sculptures are soft or hard. We gain information about the sculptures’ physical qualities when Lam posts videos poking her art.

Lam’s work arises questions of digital attachment and desire. How do we interact with beautiful things online and express our desire to touch them? Is it dangerous to assume that we have the right to touch? What can one gain from interacting with the tactile qualities of art?

Dan Lam, Over It, 2017. Source
I discovered Dan Lam through an interview with The Jealous Curator, a blog and podcast run by a British Columbia-based artist Danielle Krysa. Both Lam and Krysa are great examples of social media providing access to cool art and talented women.

A post shared by Dan Lam (@sopopomo) on

If you are in the Toronto area and want to interact further with remarkable women professionals in the museum world (this time off your screen), the Museum Studies Student Association (MUSSA) is holding a panel entitled, Women in Leadership: A Discussion on Challenges, Successes, and the Future on Friday, February 9, 2:00-4:00 in the Inforum (Bissell Building, 140 St George).

In the meantime, enjoy these mesmerizing blobs of colour, danger, and sass. 

Dan Lam, Chin Up, Shoulders Back, 2017. Source.

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