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Over the past several years, Dallas-based artist Dan Lam has made a splash in the art world with her intriguingly amorphous sculptures, which she lovingly refers to as “drips” and “blobs.” The sculptor counts pop stars and supermodels like Miley Cyrus and Lily Aldridge as collectors, and earlier this summer she celebrated her first solo museum exhibition, “A Subtle Alchemy,” at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas.
The exhibit was a large-scale sculpture executed in her signature style, a ghostly mass which stood eight-and-a-half feet tall while melting into the gallery floor. The sculpture gleamed in rainbow hues while light danced across its surface, giving the illusion of motion–a magic trick performed by chameleonic paint and a nearby projector which covered the piece in animation.
“The name, a Subtle Alchemy, is a reference to the shift in scale,” says the artist. “I thought when shifting my work from the regular sized sculptures to this, there’s something magical about it. There’s something mysterious.”
For Lam, the installation speaks to a sort of mystical transformation that occurs in her work, yet, it also speaks to her own, ongoing transformation as an artist. This is not only Lam’s largest piece, it’s also the largest project she has produced entirely in-studio and without any sponsors.
“This piece is personally significant because I’ve put a lot of time, energy, and investment into it,” she says.
While envisioning her first major museum installation, she wanted to create something that wouldn’t typically be found in an institutional setting. The artist is drawn to the unexpected, whether it’s in the unpredictability of her materials, or in the viewer’s response to her work. For “A Subtle Alchemy,” she wanted to give people a multidimensional experience.
“I think it was really about creating an illusion for the viewer. You stand from one perspective of the piece and you see it as one color, and you can move around it and you see it as another color, and that in and of itself is two different experiences in one sculpture. I really like that idea, that you can experience a sculpture in various different ways when it’s just you in the space for five minutes,” says Lam.
“Even though it’s stationary, it’s static, it has the ability to transform just by being there.”