Dan Steinhilber: Hold On, Loosely

Artist Lecture: May 20, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

I’m drawn to three dimensional forms of art… it offers the viewer this bodily experience of moving around an object or moving through an object. It’s physical and tangible and it has a gesture. It has to stand in opposition to gravity, just like you do. - Dan Steinhilber


April 30, 2011

It is my pleasure to invite you to CAM Raleigh’s premiere groundbreaking exhibitions featuring Dan Steinhilber in the main galleries and Naoko Ito in the Independent Weekly Gallery. CAM Raleigh is the culmination of the dreams of many who imagined, planned, persevered, and achieved. This core group of dedicated dreamers believed deeply in “firsts”—both in new concepts and in innovative artists and designers you may not know today but will know tomorrow. As you travel through this new building you will have numerous opportunities for exploration and engagement. The architecture invites a fantastic profusion: suddenly, everywhere you look, people are seeking out new experiences and opportunities to engage, interact, and contribute.Artists talks, community workshops, dialogue with our staff and docents—all are exceptional occasions to wade through the city’s cultural landscape as it is shaped by CAM Raleigh. I encourage you to take advantage of our programs, to discover new ideas, to add to the conversations, to be inspired and to always explore everything and participate in art and design moving forward. Elysia Borowy-Reeder
Executive Director, CAM Raleigh

CAM Raleigh is proud to present a new installation of large scale site-specific works by Washington DC-based artist Dan Steinhilber.

In the exhibition Hold On, Loosely, Steinhilber examines the conceptual connections between our building’s history as a produce warehouse and its future as a museum space for rotating exhibitions. He considers the parallels of controlled environments that receive, shelter, and then distribute objects to their next destination. Demonstrating this connection, themes of production, preservation, and consumption resonate throughout the works in the exhibition.

Steinhilber utilizes materials typically relegated as byproducts of industry: shipping pallets; stretch film; cardboard boxes; shopping carts and grocery bags all originally manufactured to contain and organize commodities. In this exhibition, Steinhilber strips away their function to examine their inherent properties as physical and aesthetic objects. Transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary, he reveals how these materials are enticing in their own right.

For the large inflatable sculpture in the main gallery, the relationship between container and object becomes particularly relevant. A white, breathing mass, it hints at its interior through translucent skin and bits of scattered colored plastic debris. Nestled into the shape, a partially hidden refrigerator stands empty, its back removed so a viewer has the impression they are standing inside the refrigerator. The viewer pushes open the door against an escaping rush of air, to enter a world without angles. Soft curves are littered in bits of color fluttering in the stream of air that keeps the room aloft.

I’m interested in the disconnect between culture and nature. Trying to figure that out, I’m spending all this time working the plastic, and I think I’m starting to find nature in the plastic… It has it’s own nature. When you touch it and squeeze it, it has a seductive quality to your fingertips, the same way as when you touch a leaf or something waxy, or how a branch on a tree has some flexibility and can bend. -  Dan Steinhilber

Melted onto large sheets of greenhouse plastic, bits of colored grocery bags and lengths of stretch wrap highlight Steinhilber’s fascination with the nature of plastics. Stretch wrapped pallets exude tension, bound by their glossy restraints. To work with unusual “art” materials, Steinhilber must employ unusual tools to obtain his desired result. A wide variety of unexpected devices were used to manipulate plastics, from a mulching lawnmower to hair straightening irons. Necessity being the mother of invention, Steinhilber created “griddle shoes” made of wood and electric pancake griddles that strap to his feet, enabling him to heat large sections of plastic at a time. This is how he and his assistants created the inflatable sculpture and the stretch wrap paintings that share the main gallery.

The title of the exhibition, Hold On, Loosely, is a duality. Referencing the theme of containment present throughout the works, it’s also relevant to society. How do we hold on and remain in control, while simultaneously staying loose, unbound and free?

- Kate Shafer

Gallery and Exhibitions Manager, CAM Raleigh

Download Steinhilber Gallery Guide


Dan Steinhilber (born 1972, Oshkosh, Wisconsin) is an established mid-career artist, living and working in Washington, DC. Born in Wisconsin, Steinhilber received his MFA from American University in Washington D.C. and his BFA from the Institute of Art and Design, Milwaukee, WI. He has presented solo exhibitions at museums including: The Hirshhorn Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden (Washington, DC), The Contemporary Art Museum Houston (Houston, TX), The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore, MD), The Mattress Factory Art Museum (Pittsburgh, PA), The Cheekwood Museum of Art, (Nashville, TN), The Brigham Young University Museum of Art (Provo, UT) and Socrates Sculpture Park (Queens, NY). His work has been included in a variety of group exhibitions in museums such as MassMOCA (North Adams, MA), ArtSpace (New Haven, CT), D.U.M.B.O Art Center (Brooklyn, NY), the Des Moines Art Center Des Moines, Iowa) the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art (Omaha, NE), The Fields Sculpture Park, Omi International Arts Center (Ghent, NY), the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), the South Eastern Center of Contemporary Art (Winston-Salem, NC) as well as international venues such as The Palazzo delle Papesse Centro Arte Contemporanea in Siena Italy, and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Steinhilber is a recipient of a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters and Sculptures Grant and a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

Images © Dan Steinhilber 2011

Download press release pdf.

Press Coverage

The Examiner - July 27
The Art of Dan Steinhilber—Featured at CAM until August 22nd

SorenAdams.com – June 16
Steinhilber Piece at Raleigh CAM give philosophy of plastic to take hold, tightly

Quarterlife Tango Blog, Tara L. Connolly – June 8
Contemporary Art Engages the Community at the Newly-Opened Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh

ElizabethBradford.com Blog – June 8
Discovering CAM Raleigh

Metro Magazine – May
Long-Awaited Contemporary Art Museum Opens With A Flourish

Goodnight, Raleigh! – May 12
First Friday – May 2011

News & Observer - May 1
Contemporary Art Showcase Opens in Raleigh

NC Art Blog - April 30
CAM's Time Arrives

Herald Sun – April 29
CAM Raleigh opens with two amazing shows

News 14 Carolina – April 30
Art Breaths New Life into Old Warehouse in Downtown Raleigh

Independent Weekly – April 27
Years in the works, Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum opens.

Independent Weekly – April 27
The Long Road to CAM and what it means for Raleigh

News & Observer – April 24
New Contemporary Art Museum aims to stir Raleigh’s artistic pulse
Photo gallery here.