Feature Stories

Dan Lam's Art Is Squishy and Bright and Looks Like Sea Creatures

Dan Lam's art is unlike anything else.
Dan Lam's art is unlike anything else. courtesy Dan Lam
Working hands-on with material that becomes squishy, moldable and able to give the illusion of a pause in time, Dan Lam waits, makes and repeats her creative process that leaves an impression of a raw, new idea.

Lam moved to Dallas three years ago. Her work is popular on Instagram, where she has 182,000 followers, and  it’s surprising to see someone well-known online with many experiences in galleries all around the country settle in Dallas. Lam found it would be harder to have studio time in New York and that it was for more established artists. With that, Dallas was her choice.

“I thought as an emerging artist it would be a great place to live and that I can contribute to the growing art scene,” she says.

Lam saw Dallas as a place where new styles of art are emerging. She certainly has a new and unique creative process.

To create her “drips,” “blobs” and “squishes,” Lam uses polyurethane foam and acrylic resin. Because of the materials' various curing and drying times, Lam is able to work on more than one project at a time. Finishing one can take three to four days or, for something bigger, up to a week.

“It keeps my mind active,” she says.

Lam draws inspiration from “weird things,” and she is aware her art may be perceived as strange.

“I am inspired by the process itself or when happy accidents occur,” she says. “Sometimes the material itself may form an idea.”

“I am inspired by the process itself or when happy accidents occur. Sometimes the material itself may form an idea.” – Dan Lam

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For visual inspiration, Lam enjoys going on hikes to take ideas from something organic, such as a rock falling from a cliff or the water washing up on a river bank.

She found her aesthetic by experimenting with nontraditional material. That’s how her unique creations were born.

Lam, like any other artist, did not start at the top, but her success story is a short one.

With a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of North Texas and a master of fine art from Arizona State University, Lam started out teaching and doing workshops. She established herself as an artist because she had a devoted studio practice and applied for residencies.

“Sometimes you agree to shows that might not fit your style,” she said. “You still get the exposure.”

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courtesy Dan Lam
Now that Lam is more established, instead of applying for residencies, she is asked to do them, along with group exhibitions. Lam recently worked with Sergio Garcia, another Dallas-based artist, on a collaborative show titled Duets: A Comparison of Realities.

For young, upcoming artists, Lam has a few words of advice based on her experience.

“Apply to shows, get your work out there, go to art openings to experience art that’s already out there,” she says. “You’ll start seeing the same faces at openings, and that’s how you’ll get to know people and make connections.”

Lam advises artists to use social media, especially Instagram, to expose their art and connect with galleries and artists.

“Be true to yourself and post what you want,” she says. “Someone’s going to like your work and want it in their gallery. Don’t base what you do on the amount of likes and views you get.”
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