Desiree Holman

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Reborn , 2009 Three Channel Video, Color, Sound. 11 Min. © Courtesy of the artist and Silverman Gallery, San Francisco
Mamma (from Reborn series) © Desiree Holman
Secure (from Reborn series), 2009 Colored Pencil On Archival Paper 16 X 16 In. (40.6 X 40.6 Cm) © Collection of Emily Wilson. Image courtesy of the artist and Silverman Gallery, San Francisco
Milkies (from Reborn series) © Desiree Holman
Symbiosis (from Reborn series) © Desiree Holman
Surplusage (from Reborn series), 2009 Color Pencil On Archival Paper 30 X 22.5 © Desiree Holman
Musical Chairs (from Reborn series) © Desiree Holman
video still from Heterotopias, 2011 Three Channel Hd Video, 13 Min. © courtesy of the artist and Silverman Gallery, San Francisco
Magnetism, 2013 © Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery
Not Cliff (Conduits of Fantasy 1), 2007-2009 Color Pencil On Paper 16" X 16" © Desirée Holman
Quick Facts
Montgomery, AL, USA
Birth year
Lives in
Oakland, CA, USA
Works in
Oakland, CA, USA
Representing galleries
Silverman Gallery

My work explores human behavior through the use of fantasy play with figurative sculptures such as dolls, masks and full-body wearable sculptures. (This repertoire will soon expand to include virtual figures as well.) I make these sculptures, employ performers to play with the sculptures, and capture the resulting role-playing games. Though performance and sculpture are part of the process, the final manifestation of the work is video, photography and/or drawing. The driving question is this: what do games of make-believe, like the ones I create in my work or the ones created in multi-user online games or elsewhere, tell us about human behavior in the ‘real’ world? Stated differently, what can we recognize about ourselves (our desires, our behaviors, our values,etc) by peering into alternate fantasy worldscapes.

Desirée Holman is an Oakland, California-based interdisciplinary artist. Her process involves fabricating (or, less frequently, appropriating) figurative props, which are manipulated in role-playing games. The work questions what games of makebelieve, like the ones created in her work or ones created in multi-user online games or elsewhere, can tell us about our behaviors in the ‘real’ world. Holman was recently awarded a San Francisco Modern Museum of Art SECA award and an 2007 Artadia: The Fund for Art and Dialogue award. Her work has been exhibited internationally at venues such as the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art, Hessel Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art; Milan’s BnD, Toronto’s YYZ, The Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art; Berkeley Art Museum and Lisa Boyle Gallery in Chicago. In 1999, directly after completing her BFA in sculpture at CCA, Desirée attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She graduated with her MFA from UC Berkeley in 2002. Her work has been reviewed in publications such as Artforum, Los Angeles Times, NY Arts, Artillery, San Francisco Chronicle, and Artweek. The Hammer Museum mounted the first solo museum exhibition of her work in November 2009. Holman is represented by San Francisco’s Silverman Gallery.


1974 Born in Montgomery, AL, USA

Lives and works in Oakland, CA, USA



2002 MFA, University of California at Berkeley

1999 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

1999 BFA, California College of the Arts

94-96 Virginia Commonwealth University, sculpture


Select Solo & Two-Person Exhibitions


“Desirée Holman,” Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA, Curator: Ali Subotnick (brochure)

“Reborn,” Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, CA.

“Living History,” Marc Selwyn Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA, Curators: Dean Valentine & Marc

Selwyn (two-person exhibition)

“Make Believe,” Thatcher Gallery at University of San Francisco, CA.


“The Magic Window,” Machine Projects, Los Angeles, CA.

“Desiree Holman Videos,” Night Vision at the Climate Theater, San Francisco, CA.


“TV Honey: Desiree Holman with Lynda Benglis and Joan Jonas,” Silverman Gallery, San

Francisco, CA, Curator: Lawrence Rinder


“Desiree Holman: Bucolic Existence for my Unreal Life and Other Work,” Lisa Boyle

Gallery, Chicago, IL.

“Effigy,” YYZ Artistsʼ Outlet, Toronto, Canada, (publication)


“Troglodyte,” Queens Nails Annex, San Francisco, CA

“Breath Holes,” San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, CA, Curator: Mary Ceruti (catalogue)

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