Step into the whimsical world of Dan Lam, where art transcends conventional boundaries and explodes with vibrant energy. Renowned for her innovative approach to sculpture, Lam’s creations are a fusion of fantasy and reality, challenging the traditional perceptions of form and texture. From dripping, neon-hued resin to alien-like protrusions, her work beckons viewers to engage in a tactile experience that defies expectation. As an avant-garde force in contemporary art, Lam’s pieces captivate with their otherworldly allure, sparking conversations about the intersection of nature and the synthetic. Join us on a journey through the mesmerizing universe of Dan Lam, where every sculpture is a testament to boundless creativity.
We bring to your attention an interview with this brilliant artist.
1. Please tell us about the materials you work with.
I’m often drawn to a material because of its physical properties: it’s lightweight, easily shaped, shiny, etc. Sometimes, it’s a material I stumble upon outside of an art setting, and I’m curious about its potential applications for art. I like learning materials and having that knowledge to store away and be available as needed. I’ll play with a material, and I won’t have a use for it at that moment, but sometime later, it’s the perfect material for a solution.
I use polyurethane foam as the base material for most sculptures, except the huge ones. This material is fascinating because it has unique properties that require working with it, coaxing it into being. When used correctly, it can create beautiful and unusual shapes. I also incorporate multiple layers of other materials, such as resins, spackle, plaster, and paint. I aim to obscure the piece’s underlying material by the end of the process.
2. All your works are very bold and extraordinary. Who or what inspires you to create them?
My life, studio practice, and everything in between are one thing, and there is no separation. My inspiration to create comes from both the internal and external world, working to cultivate my creativity. I remain open and receptive to ideas, filtering what I like and don’t like and seeing what comes of that. Although I have many sources of inspiration, nature is especially significant and the one I return to most.
3. What kind of public reaction were you hoping for? What feelings would you like to evoke?
At the most simple level, I want to evoke curiosity in others. That’s the feeling I get when I experience a show or artwork that stays with me. I’ll wonder about it long after, questions like how it was made, what the ideas are, etc – leaving me feeling like I have to know more. That feeling is inspiring, and I aspire to replicate that for others.
4. Is interaction with your viewers important to you? In what way do you prefer to communicate with your fans: online or offline?
I think interacting with my viewers is vital because it offers different perspectives. People can see things in your work that you may not think about. I enjoy having face-to-face conversations and getting various insights and reactions to the work. I’ll always choose offline interaction over online! I love seeing people’s excitement.
5. Tell us where and when contemporary art lovers can look at your work.
I will have a solo exhibition at Hashimoto Contemporary in New York City from December 16th to January 7th. I will also show a large-scale sculpture at Wynwood Walls in Miami, FL, for Art Week during Basel, which runs from December 4th to 10th. You can also find me online on Instagram and TikTok as @sopopomo.
6. Please tell us about your most successful collaborations, in your opinion.
That’s a tough question! For a brand collaboration, one of the most successful would be with Steve’s Ice Cream. We did three pop-up events over the summer at the ICA Boston in 2019, with my large-scale sculptures taking over their entire outdoor deck. It was a massive undertaking; I learned so much, and it expanded my mind about what was possible with my work. One of my favorites for artist collaborations is with artist Tina Yu, who makes surrealist sculptures. We’ve worked together twice. She created beautiful human figures for each collaboration that interacted with my sculptures. The juxtaposition of the human form with my work created an exciting narrative and otherworldly quality that was fun to play with.
7. How long does it take you to create your masterpieces?
Many of the materials I work with require long dry and cure times, so I will work on multiple pieces simultaneously. It’s hard to give an exact amount of time, but for a smaller piece, I’d say anywhere from three days to a week, depending on the materials. For larger works, it can take months.