Sharon Louden

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Sharon Louden
Born 1964
Philadelphia, PA
Nationality American
Education School of the Art Institute of Chicago , Yale School of Art

Sharon Louden (born 1964) is an American artist known for her whimsical use of the line.[1] Her paintings, drawings, animations, sculpture and installations are often centered on lines or linear abstractions and their implied or actual movement. Through her work she creates what she calls "anthropomorphic individuals". Although abstract and formal, she feels they have human-like aspects within their minimal state, made of simple line and gesture. In reference to her minimalist paintings, Louden has been called "the Robert Ryman of the 21st century".[2]

In October 2011, Louden's installation Merge opened at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[3] Merge was created in dialogue with the Frank Gehry designed new addition to the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN. Merge was developed and has grown through venues at the Munson Williams Proctor Institute Museum of Art in 2004[4] and Project 4 Gallery in 2010. Of Merge, Janet Koplos of Art in America writes "...the energetic Merge, perhaps Louden’s best work to date, clearly succeeds on its own merits and would be satisfying anywhere."[5]

Louden's work exists in the permanent collections of the Neuberger Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Art, Arkansas Arts Center, Yale University Art Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She has received a grant from the Elizabeth Foundation, and has participated in residencies at Tamarind Institute, Urban Glass and Art Omi in upstate New York.[6]

Her work is represented by Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York City,[7] Patrick Heide Contemporary Art in London,[8] Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas, TX,[9] and Beta Pictoris Gallery in Birmingham, AL.[10]

Early life and education[edit]

Sharon Louden was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and raised in Olney, Maryland. Louden has three siblings: Mimi Louden, Karen Louden Allanach, and Jill Louden. Louden graduated from Sherwood High School in Sandy Spring, Maryland. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 1988, where she studied with Dan Gustin and Susanna Coffey. Louden received her MFA from Yale School of Art in 1991.[11] At Yale, her mentors were Mel Bochner, William Bailey, Andrew Forge and Frances Barth. She received Yale's Schickle-Collingwood Prize in 1990.

Louden studied figurative painting at SAIC. However, through her education at Yale, her work merged into abstraction, creating a foundation for her work seen today.[12]


Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC
Beta Pictoris Gallery, Birmingham, AL
Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, NY
Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas, TX
Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
Burnet Gallery, Minneapolis, MN
Gallery Joe, Philadelphia, PA
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC
Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, AL
Oliver Kamm/5BE Gallery, New York, NY
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
Numark Gallery, Washington DC
Anthony Grant, Inc., New York, NY
Clark University, Worcester, MA
Ambrosino Gallery, Miami, FL
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO
DiverseWorks ArtSpace, Houston, TX
Numark Gallery, Washington DC
Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, MI
Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL
Dee/Glasoe Gallery, New York, NY
Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA
Works on Paper, Inc., Los Angeles, CA
Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, DE
Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago, IL
Haines Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Richard Anderson Fine Arts, New York, NY
Islip Art Museum, East Islip, NY
Gina Fiore Salon of Fine Arts, New York, NY

Selected collections[edit]

Louden's work is held in major public and private collections throughout the United States, Asia and Europe including:


Sharon Louden has exhibited her animations in galleries, museums and film festivals across the country since 2006. Inspired by many artists, including Shel Silverstein, animation has become an important aspect to the development of Louden's overall visual language.

Her first series of animations were included in a solo exhibition entitled "Character," which was a survey of paintings, drawings, installation, prints and animation at the Neuberger Museum of Art, curated by Dede Young.

Since then, Louden has made several more animations including "Pool," which was included in the Art Video Lounge exhibition curated by Michael Rush for the Art Basel Miami Art Fair in 2006. In addition to "Pool," "Hedge" and almost all of her animations have been surveyed in various children's film festivals in the US in 2008-2009.

"The Bridge," completed in 2008, has been shown at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and Gallery Joe in Philadelphia, PA. It has also been screened at the Queens International Film Festival and the New York Downtown Film Festival Audience Choice Screening in 2009. Because of positive audience response at the screening, "The Bridge" was selected for inclusion in the New York Downtown Film Festival, 2010.

Her animations have also been shown in many more film festivals including the Athens International Film and Video Festival in Athens, OH and the Honolulu International Film Festival, where she received an award for Excellence in Filmmaking in 2009. In 2010, Louden was the recipient of the Bronze Palm Award from the Mexico International Film Festival for her animation,"The Bridge". "Footprints" (2006), "Hedge" (2007), "The Bridge" (2008), and "Carrier" (2011) were screened in the East Wing Auditorium at the National Gallery of Art as a part of "Cine'-Concert: Art in Motion!" program where her animations were accompanied by live piano and percussion compositions by Andrew Simpson (piano) and Barry Dove (percussion). During this program Louden's multiple animations were screened with other notable works, such as: "Lines Horizontal" Norman McLaren, 1962 ; "Two Space" Larry Cuba, 1979 ; "Free Radicals" Len Lye, 1958 ; "Symphonie Diagonal" Viking Eggeling, 1924 ; "Silence" Jules Engel,1968 ; and "Chemical Sundown" by Jeremy Blake, 2001 to name only a few. "Carrier" premiered at this event.[14]

Animation stills of various animations can be seen in published catalogs entitled "Character" and "Taking Turns." All ten animations (2005–2011) are included in the Iota Center's library collection.

Public works[edit]

Louden has worked in the realm of public art since approximately 1998. Her work often includes industrial materials that are transformed to resemble forms in nature, movement, or reference the human body. Public Art projects include "Reflecting Tips" in Sunnyvale, CA, and "Plantings at Riverside Park," in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She has also made temporary public art installations such as "Tangled Tips" at Metro Tech business park in Brooklyn,[15] NY, through the Public Art Fund in 2000. In 2013, Louden installed "Merge," a permanent commissioned installation located in Oak Hall at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Connecticut, commissioned by the State of Connecticut, Department of Community and Economic Development, Art in Public Spaces Program.[16]

Book projects[edit]

Louden is the editor of the book "Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists" published by Intellect Books and distributed by the University of Chicago Press, which includes essays by artists Julie Blackmon, Sharon Butler, Amanda Church, Maureen Connor, Will Cotton, Blane de St. Croix, Jennifer Dalton, Karin Davie, Jay Davis, Peter Drake, Carson Fox, Michelle Grabner, The Art Guys, Erik Hanson, Ellen Harvey, Julie Heffernan, Laurie Hogin, David Humphrey, Tony Ingrisano, Thomas Kilpper, Richard Klein, Julie Langsam, Annette Lawrence, Beth Lipman, Jenny Marketou, Sean Mellyn, Maggie Michael, Peter Newman, Tim Nolan, Brian Novatny, Adrienne Outlaw, Amy Pleasant, Melissa Potter, Justin Quinn, Kate Shepherd, Dan Steinhilber, George Stoll, Austin Thomas, Brian Tolle, and Michael Waugh as well as a forward by Carter Foster, curator of drawings at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a conclusion by Ed Winkleman, of Winkleman Gallery, and Bill Carroll, Director of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program.

A 53-stop book tour has included these venues:

  • 2014

Chautauqua Institution, Chautauqua, NY; Boston Public Library, Boston, MA; AS220, Providence, RI; Real Art Ways, Hartford, CT; University of North Texas, Denton, TX; Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas, TX; Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, New York, NY; Pocket Utopia, New York, NY; Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ; Trifecta Gallery, Las Vegas, NV;[17] Los Angeles Art Association, Los Angeles, CA; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA;[18] Richmond Art Center, Richmond, CA; University of California, Davis, CA; Sotheby’s Institute, Los Angeles, CA; Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA; CB1 Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Strand Book Store, New York, NY;[19] Boston University, Boston, MA; College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, St. Cloud, MN; Burnet Art Gallery, Minneapolis, MN; Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, IA; Artspace, New Haven, CT; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA; Beta Pictoris/Maus Contemporary, Birmingham, AL; Book Fair at the College Art Association, Chicago, IL; Indiana University, Bloomington, IN; Lyme Academy, Old Lyme, CT; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; 92nd Street Y, New York, NY

  • 2013

Art Basel Miami Beach Art Fair, Salon Programming, Miami Beach, FL;[20] School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, IL; Columbia College, Chicago, IL; Cannonball at Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Minus Space, Brooklyn, NY; New York Academy of Art, New York, NY; Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, NY; University of Connecticut Co-Op, Storrs, CT; Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY; Arts Westchester, White Plains, NY; Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT; Seed Space, Nashville, TN; Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN; Salina Arts Center, Salina, KS.


Louden has taught studio and professional practice classes to students of all levels in colleges and universities throughout the United States since 1991. Colleges and universities at which Louden has lectured and taught include: Kansas City Art Institute, The College of Saint Rose, Massachusetts College of Art, Maryland Institute College of Art, New York Academy of Art, University of North Texas, Vanderbilt University and Tyler School of Art, amongst others.

Louden has also taught a workshop entitled "Glow Town" for the past 10 years in museums and schools across the country including the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Aldrich Museum Contemporary Art Museum, Katonah Museum of Art and at Peekskill High School in Peekskill, New York. Sharon Louden conducted the "Glow Town" workshop at schools in Greensburg, Kansas through the 5.4.7 Arts Center in May, 2010 and at the Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho on April 9, 2011 and at the Pelham Arts Center in Pelham, New York on May 6, 2012.

Since 2010, Louden has organized and moderated the Professional Practice Lecture Series at the New York Academy of Art. From February 2012 to February 2014, Louden served as the Chair of the Services to Artists Committee of the College Art Association based in New York City.

She is on the Board of Seed Space; the Advisory Committee for the Cannonball Visiting Residency Program; and is a founding member of the Arts Advisory Council for the New York Academy of Art. She has also contributed her time to the development of programming for the 5.4.7. Arts Center.

The Lecture Series[edit]

Since 2010, Louden has organized and moderated the Professional Practice Lecture Series at the New York Academy of Art, which has included such luminaries as Randy Cohen, Ann Pasternak, Jerry Saltz, Roberta Smith, Robert Storr, Benjamin Genocchio, Josh Baer, Ken Johnson and Carter Foster.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to jazz-musician/activist Vinson Valega and lives and works in New York City and Minneapolis, MN.


External links[edit]