Frye Art Museum Deputy Director Robin Held is Appointed Executive Director of Reel Grrls

SEATTLE, December 15, 2011

The Frye Art Museum announced today that Robin Held, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections, has resigned to assume the position of Executive Director at Reel Grrls. She will take up her duties at Reel Grrls on March 1, 2012. She will complete her work at the Frye Art Museum in late February where, as previously announced, she will curate the exhibition Susie J. Lee: Of Breath and Rain, which opens February 18, 2012.

“For fifteen years I have worked closely with artists to help them realize their most ambitious projects,” said Held. “Many of these artists have been under-recognized women—from around the world and from within our own city—who possess enormous creative talent and drive but struggle to have their voices heard. I’m about to achieve one of my own greatest aspirations: to mentor young women and provide them with the most expansive horizons possible at that crucial early stage when they are just beginning to imagine themselves as artists.”

Reel Grrls is an award-winning film and new media training program that empowers young women from diverse communities in Washington State to realize their power, talent, and influence through media production. The organization’s mission is to cultivate voice and leadership in girls at a vulnerable age in their development.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Robin and Reel Grrls,” said Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker, Director of the Frye Art Museum. “It has been my pleasure to support Robin in making this move that is so important to her. I value our close collaboration and curatorial partnership in various capacities over the past five years, and the contribution Robin has made to the Frye Art Museum in redefining its commitment to contemporary art. While I will sorely miss her presence at the Frye Art Museum, I’m eager to watch Reel Grrls flourish with her vision and leadership.”

Held joined the Frye Art Museum in 2004. At the Frye, and previously, as former Associate Curator of the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington, she has established herself as one of Seattle’s most innovative curators of contemporary art. Among the important exhibitions of visual art, performance, and film Held has curated at the Frye Art Museum are The RetroFuturistic Universe of NSK, Heaven is Being a Memory for Others, Empire, Degenerate Art Ensemble’s Red Shoes, and Implied Violence: Yes and More and Yes and Yes and Why, a highlight of which was The Dorothy K: For Better, For Worse, and Forever, a new performance commissioned for the Frye Art Museum reflecting pool.

Held has published and lectured extensively on contemporary art and performance. In 2009, she was a Center for Curatorial Leadership Fellow; in 2006, she received a Goethe Institute Visiting Scholar Travel Award; and in 2003, a Getty Grant Program Curatorial Research Fellowship.

“Robin has made a significant and enduring contribution to the vitality and transformation of the Frye Art Museum,” said David Buck, president of the Frye’s Board of Trustees. “On behalf of the Board and staff of the Frye Art Museum, I want to thank Robin for the many wonderful exhibitions she has brought to our community.”

“My seven years at the Frye Art Museum have been enormously satisfying,” said Held. “I’m grateful for the unequivocal support I received from directors Midge Bowman and Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker and my colleagues at the Museum. And for the opportunity to help shape the transformation of an institution that brings so much to the city of Seattle and beyond.”

Held noted the parallels between the Reel Grrls independent media training program she will be leading and the upcoming Susie J. Lee exhibition she is curating at the Frye Art Museum. “Both museums and independent media are important arenas of free expression in our culture,” she said. “Susie Lee’s art expands our current vocabulary for the expression of important ideas through new media. Reel Grrl graduates are the Susie Lees of the future.”

Of Breath and Rain is Susie J. Lee’s first solo museum exhibition. A 2010 Stranger Visual Art Genius and one of the most intriguing artists working in Seattle today, Lee uses a range of new media tools to explore the sensory richness of human existence. The quiet, meditative quality of Lee’s work enables an experience that is far more than purely visual. The exhibition of her work at the Frye Art Museum will include an installation titled Rain Shower, 2007, in which Lee uses sound and light to immerse viewers in a virtual storm, and Still Lives: Exposure, 2010, an intimate video portrait of thirty minutes in the life of an elderly woman peacefully napping.


The Frye Art Museum is a living legacy of visionary patronage and civic responsibility, committed to artistic inquiry and a rich visitor experience. A catalyst for our engagement with contemporary art and artists is the Founding Collection of Charles and Emma Frye, access to which shall always be free.

The Frye Art Museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums.

Press Contact

Ingrid Langston, Head of Communications
206 432 8214
pressnull@fryemuseum.org