"[Held] was a potion that awakened the sleeping Frye.
Led by her fresh ideas about the art, history, and architecture of the First Hill museum
—and with the support of two successive directors and a courageous board of trustees—
Held turned the Frye into a thrill.
She understood showmanship without sacrificing seriousness, and she valued relationships. Even through the economic crash, the Frye has felt alive."
Jen Graves, Art Critic, The Stranger, 2012
Robin Held is a creative strategist, executive leader, and cultural entrepreneur.
Held has a demonstrated record of success, strategic change, and value creation in not-for-profit arts and media education, museums, and the private sector. At the core of her accomplishments - built into her DNA - is the joy of deep engagement with artists.
As curator of more than 100 exhibitions and performances, producing partner, advisor to funders, grant writer, and executive, she has worked directly with artists to realize ambitious work in a wide range of media, from traditional to experimental, including painting, sculpture, film, video, performance, sound art, robotics, artificial intelligence, and digital media.
Most recently, she has become a consultant to a select number of artists and organizations, whose innovation, entrepreneurship, and potential positive impact on society are too big to fit easily or well in separable categories of art, science, or new technology. From this vantage she guides creators to new resources, expertise and investment.
Held has strong international networks and deep experience at the forefront of public institutions, working with artists, staff, faculty, trustees, students and community stakeholders. She has led focused teams, who together have successfully transformed organizational culture
Her past institutional positions include Executive Director of Reel Girls, which educates, mentors and equips young women to create transformative media; Deputy Director of Exhibitions and Collections, Frye Art Museum, Seattle, and Associate Curator at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington.
Held has published and lectured extensively on contemporary art and performance, and has established a reputation for creating innovative and compelling exhibitions of contemporary visual art, performance, film and new media. In 2013, she was honored with the Women's Funding Alliance Leah McCullough Legacy Leadership Award; in 2009 she was a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow, among other awards and recognitions.
Held earned a B.F.A., Painting, Sculpture, Graphic Arts, University of California at Los Angeles; Ph.D., ABD, in Art History, University of Washington; and a certificate of completion, Columbia University School of Business Executive Education Program.
Susie J. Lee: Of Breath and Rain, 2012
First solo museum exhibition;
artist’s signature works in video and immersive sound and light installations; publication
Implied Violence/St. Genet: Yes and More and Yes and Yes and Why, 2010
First museum exhibition of Seattle performance group
The RetroFuturistic Universe of NSK, 2005
Twenty-five year survey of influential Slovene artist collective Neue Slowenische Kunst
(New Slovene Art, NSK), drawn from a U.S. private collection; NSK uses the term “retro-avant-gardism” to describe its strategic appropriation and recycling of past images as a method of envisioning the future
Tracy and the Plastics 101, 2005
First solo museum exhibition and performance of Tracy + the Plastics, an ongoing performance project
created and performed by artist Wynne Greenwood
Dario Robleto: Heaven is Being a Memory for Others, 2008/ Dario Roblleto: Alloy of Love
New commissioned art created in response to Frye founding collection;
exhibition resulting from residency by Dario Robleto
Hershmanlandia: The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman Leeson, 1965-2005, 2005
The artist’s first U.S. museum survey and first monograph; Brought together for first time drawings, paintings, photographs, performances, robotic works, digital art, videos, films, interactive multimedia installations, and artificial intelligence works.
Monograph a co-publication between University of California Press and the Henry Art Gallery; Traveled.
Andy Warhol Foundation Grant, 2004
Getty Grant Program Curatorial Research Fellowship, 2003
Implied Violence/St. Genet: The Dorothy K, For Better, For Worse and Forever, 2010
New performance commissioned especially for the Frye Art Museum reflecting pool,
traveled to the Danau Festival, Vienna, 2010; Watermill Center for Performance, NY, 2010
Oliver Herring: TASK, Seattle Public Library, 2008
Exhibition Catalogue; Daylong task-based performance for 20 participants
Degenerate Art Ensemble, 2011
First museum exhibition of this Seattle-NYC performance group
Joseph Park: Moon Beam Caress, 2005
Exhibition catalogue; first solo museum exhibition and five-year survey
Projected art by Dias & Reidwig (U.S. premier of Documenta installation),
Runa Islam, Paul Pfeiffer, Janos Revesz and Norbert Szirmai, Halil Altindere
Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics, 2002
First museum exhibition to be registered with the National Institutes of Health as laboratory activity; Exhibition catalogue; Provided a showcase and new museum model for new life forms and transgenic bacteria created by artists.
Seven new commissioned artworks; close collaboration with University of Washington geneticists; Traveled.
Rockefeller Foundation Programs in Creativity and Culture Grant, 2002 * Allen Foundation for the Arts, 2002
Animating Democracy Initiative, Americans for the Arts, Ford Foundation, 2000
National Endowment for the Arts Creation and Presentation Grant, 2000
Hug: Recent Work by Patricia Piccinini, 2007
First U.S. survey; Patricia Piccinini’s hyperrealist art—sculptures, videos, drawings, and photographs—prompts us to consider the stakes and potential consequences of our production of new life forms
as a result of biotechnology
Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Red Shoes, 2011
New performance created especially for the Frye Art Museum, St. James Cathedral, and the First Hill neighborhood; traveled to Watermill Center for Performance, NY, 2011;
and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF, 2016
Over Julia’s Dead Body: Gabriel von Max’s Mystics and Martyrs, 2009
Max solo exhibition, featuring Lesley Hazelton’s soundwork, commissioned by the Frye
in response to Max’s The Christian Martyr
Susie Lee: Of Breath and Rain, Seattle: Frye Art Museum, Seattle, 2011
Exhibition Catalogue. Audio interview by Robin Held.
“Meiro Koizumi: Taking It in the Eye,” essay by Robin Held
in Meiro Koizumi. Exhibition Catalog. Seattle University and Open Satellite, 2010
Jaq Chartier: Testing. Seattle: Marquand Books, 2004
Contains the essay “The Bleeding Edge of a Dot: Jaq Chartier’s Fugitive Pleasures,” by Robin Held
The Art and Films of Lynn Hershman. Ed. Meredith Tromble, co-publication,
Seattle: Henry Art Gallery and Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005
Contains essay by Robin Held.
Dario Robleto: Alloy of Love. Ed. Ian Berry. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2008
Contains essay “Heaven is Being a Memory for Others,” by Robin Held.
"A New and Necessary Normal", essay by Robin Held.
November 2012 issue of CITY ARTS
Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information. Eds. Phillip Thurtle and Robert Mitchell, New York: Routledge, 2003
Contains the essay “Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics,” by Robin Held.
New Leipzig Paintings from the Rubell Family Collection, Edited by Mark Coetzee, Laura Steward Heon, 2007
Contains an essay by Robin Held.
Clean Rooms. London: The Arts Catalyst and Gallery Oldham, 2002. Exhibition catalogue.
Contains the essay “Gene(sis)/GenTerra: Curating Biological Art in An Age of Bioterrorism,” by Robin Held.
Gene(sis): Contemporary Art Explores Human Genomics
Seattle: Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, 2002. Exhibition website, and catalogue CD-ROM
Edited by Robin Held.
IRWIN: Trzy projekty/Three Projects. Warsaw: Center for Contemporary Art, 1998
Contains the essay “Spectatorial Subjectivity, IRWIN: LIVE and the Artist-Figure," by Robin Held.
Joseph Park: Moon Beam Caress, Seattle: Frye Art Museum, 2005
Edited by Robin Held.
Interview with Nancy Guppy's on Seattle Channel's GALLERY HOP
At the Frye Museum, 2007
Shawn Brixey, University of Washington Professor in the DX Arts program, speaks on Robin's career.
From YES AND YES AND MORE AND YES: A TOAST TO ROBIN HELD
Interview with Hanson Hosein, Four Peaks TV.
On Reel Grrls and Women in Digital Media
Interview with Marcie Sillman on KUOW-94.9FM, on Robin's leadership of REEL GRRLS
Some of the artists with which Robin has worked:
RAUL ORTEGA AYALA
CENTER FOR LAND USE INTERPRETATION
CRITICAL ART ENSEMBLE
DIAS & REIDWIG
DEGENERATE ART ENSEMBLE
JANOS REVESZ AND
SALON DE FLEURUS
"As chief curator at the Frye Art Museum, she commissioned dark, daring, and multidisciplinary art;
now she turns her radical eye to the media nonprofit Reel Grrls."
"People are experiencing the art not only differently but more deeply. The response that we've seen,
certainly with the NSK exhibition [curated by Robin Held], is that it's touching people in a more meaningful way."
"I hear her name repeatedly: for her work at The Henry before The Frye, for her tireless advocacy,
for her support of local artists—and, yes, for her great sense of style."
Sarah Caples, Vanguard Seattle
“Connecting Young Women to the World: Robin Held” Hanson Hosein, Four Peaks TV
“Robin Held and Reel Grrls” Marcie Sillman, KUOW / NPR (Interview starts 34:50)
“Most Influential People in Seattle 2012” Seattle Magazine
“Editor’s Top 5: Giving Thanks for Community Builders.” Vanguard Seattle Arts + Culture
“A New and Necessary Normal” Robin Held, City Arts
“Robin Held is Leaving the Frye.” Jen Graves, The Stranger
“Robin Held.” Chase Jarvis, Seattle 100: Portrait of a City
“Applied Art: Robin Held.” Seattle Met, 2010
“Robin Held, Frye Art Museum.” Le 21ème Arrondisement
“Make It Strange” Jen Graves, The Stranger
“In/Visible: Jen Graves Interviews Robin Held,” Podcast, The Stranger
“Pardon Me But the Art is Mouthing Off” Jori Finkel, New York Times
“2005 Stranger Genius Organization Frye Art Museum,” Nate Lippens, The Stranger
“The Henry's Robin Held to take top curator post at the Frye” Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Genetics Breeds Strange New Art,” Steven Henry Madoff, New York Times
LYNN HERSHMANN LEESON
IMPLIED VIOLENCE/ST. GENET
DAVID C. KANE
SUSIE J. LEE
NEUE SLOWENISCHE KUNST