Slides: A Glimpse of Desiree Holman

Franklin Melendez



On the eve of her upcoming Hammer Projects exhibit at the UCLA Hammer Museum, BAM/PFA collection artist Desiree Holman sounds off on her working process, the importance of getting ‘jiggy with it,’ while revealing some unexpected sources of inspiration. Get a glimpse behind the mask!
Images courtesy of Silverman Gallery, San Francisco.

  • 10203040.jpg

    “I spend a lot of time trolling around on the internet looking for sub-societies and I found this particular sub-society that is mostly women who create these baby dolls, these hyper realistic baby dolls and they either make them or collect them and the vernacular around these dolls addresses them as live babies. It interested me because the women who were behind the collecting or the making didn’t strike me as the type to be engaged in this really massive game of fantasy role-playing with each other.”

    10 20 30 40, 2009, Color pencil on archival paper.

  • Insecure.jpg

    “This was right up my alley. I think I am really driven by a lot of sociological questions. So, my questioning went something like: ‘Why are these women doing this?’ ‘Why are these particular women in these particular locations of these particular groups, regions, class, marital status… why are they engaged in this and why aren’t other people? I don’t have the answers to those questions, by the way. These are just questions that motivated me.”

    Insecure, 2009, Color pencil on archival paper.

  • outgrowth.jpg

    “When I started the research for this, I really was just asking questions, like women’s identities around motherhood: ‘How socially constructed is this?,’ ‘How biologically constructed is this?’ This sort of research like looking into the history of women’s identity in motherhood in different cultures and that branched out to other interests whether that was infanticide, or looking at non-humans and motherhood, or the gene, the FOSBE gene, where, in rats that can be switched on or off to allow a female rat to actually be a successful mom or not.”

    Outgrowth, 2009, Color pencil on archival paper.

  • television.jpg

    “The way I think of media is really working with figurative props and animating figurative props. I’m interested in what we can learn or assess about human behavior through fantasy-scape. And the fantasy-scapes that I direct tend to be with a group or cast of performers, in the past it was just myself, and some sort of figurative prop that I’ve constructed.”

    Television (Conduits of Fantasy) 1, 2007, Color pencil on archival paper.

  • masks2.jpg

    “I’ve used the mask as a prop in the past. I think of masking and play as a way to inhabit a space that is in some ways intangible, that’s the story that’s told in a fantasy-scape, and I look at that and invite viewers into a fantasy-scape and then go from there.”

    Masks (Conduits of Fantasy) 2, 2007, Color pencil on archival paper.

  • reborn.jpg

    “I think costuming is a little bit of bridge for the performers I work with; it’s a path to get a little more jiggy and get a little freer because their identity is partially concealed and they don’t have to be themselves. They can be someone else and I think that helps with their dancing in their underwear in front of a camera.”

    Reborn video still.

  • silenceoflambs.jpg

    “Maybe it goes back to my first real art experience being with that Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. I am not into the grotesque or the murdering of the women, but there was something that rocked my world. He was trying to transcend his gender, and he collected these exotic moths, and built a whole life as a tailor to learn this craft. I saw it in high school, and I got it. I stress: not the murder! I’m obivously not into the murder part of it, but the whole performative, sculptural, transformative aspect of it. That’s the flesh, so I come back to that.”

    The Silence of the Lambs movie poster.

  • surplusage.jpg

    “Drawing that shirt was sheer torture. It was not fun at all towards… from here down. Yeah, I’m over it now, but the process is really fun and it can be really romantic. To just get in a zone and notice things, that’s the beauty of drawing. You see something you actually have to translate what you’re seeing on paper, which to investigate what you’re seeing and translate is so different than you actually think it might be.”

    Surplusage, 2009, Color pencil on archival paper.