Sharon Louden

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Sharon Louden
Born1964 (age 59–60)
Philadelphia, PA
EducationSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale School of Art

Sharon Louden (born 1964) is an American visual artist, known for her abstract and whimsical use of the line. [1] Her minimalist paintings and drawings have subsequently transformed over the years into other media (animation, sculpture, and installation), being expressed as "drawings-in-space." She has also expanded into a wide-ranging use of color. In reference to her minimalist paintings, Louden has been called "the Robert Ryman of the 21st century."[2]

Notable works[edit]

Louden has become known for her variety of large-scale installations that use suspended aluminum, fiber optics with glass rods, and colorful vinyl. Upon completion of an exhibition of suspended aluminum in early 2017 entitled, "Windows," at the Tweed Museum of Art,[3] she was commissioned for a permanent installation using suspended aluminum in the lobby of a public building in Houston, Texas. Subsequent iterations of "Windows" were completed at the University of Wyoming Museum of Art (2018-2020),[4] Philbrook Museum of Art (2019–2020),[5] and a permanent installation in the lobby of a new public building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In the summer 2023 at Breck Create (Breckenridge, CO), she suspended aluminum, placed colored vinyl on the walls and floors, and hung works on paper in an installation that addressed societal barriers historically preventing women and underprivileged from moving forward past obstacles.[6]

During the pandemic, she collaborated remotely with art students to create an outdoor installation of colored glass and rock that celebrated the 100th anniversary of Women's Suffrage in the United States, an exhibition that also featured a new animation.[7]

In October 2011, Louden's installation Merge opened at the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota. [8] Merge was created in dialogue with the new addition to the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first iteration of Merge was exhibited at the Munson Williams Proctor Institute Museum of Art in 2004[9] and evolved since then. 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."[10]

Louden's work is held in major public and private collections including the Whitney Museum of American Art, National Gallery of Art, Neuberger Museum 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, New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Ford Foundation and has participated in residencies at the Tamarind Institute, Urban Glass, Art Omi, and The Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation. [11]

Her work is represented by Engage Projects in Chicago,[12] Signs & Symbols Gallery in New York City,[13] Patrick Heide Contemporary Art in London,[14] and Holly Johnson Gallery in Dallas, Texas.[15]

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. [16] 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. During her education at Yale, her work merged into abstraction. [17]


Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

"Merge" - University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT - 2013

Breck Create, Breckenridge, CO
Engage Project, Chicago, IL
Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK
Signs & Symbols Gallery, New York, NY
University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY
Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN
Morgan Lehman Gallery, New York, NY
Holly Johnson Gallery, Dallas, TX
Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC
Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY
DiverseWorks ArtSpace, Houston, TX

Selected collections[edit]

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


"Carrier" - still shot of animation - 2011

Sharon Louden has exhibited her animations in galleries, museums, and film festivals across the country. Her inspirations include Shel Silverstein.

Her first series of animations were included in a 2006 solo exhibition entitled "Character," which was a survey of paintings, drawings, installations, prints, and animation at the Neuberger Museum of Art, curated by Dede Young. Also in 2006, "Pool" was included in the Art Video Lounge exhibition curated by Michael Rush for the Art Basel Miami Art Fair.

Many of her animations were surveyed in various children's film festivals in the US from 2008–2009. In particular, "The Bridge," completed in 2008, was shown at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, and Gallery Joe in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was also screened at the Queens International Film Festival and the New York Downtown Film Festival Audience Choice Screening in 2009. Because of the positive audience response at the screening, "The Bridge" was selected for inclusion in the New York Downtown Film Festival in 2010. Her animations have also been shown at the Athens International Film and Video Festival in Athens, Ohio, 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 "The Bridge."

Between 2011 and 2017, Louden was commissioned by the National Gallery of Art to both create new animations and to help curate three film screenings of abstract animation: Ciné-Concert: Art in Motion! (2011), Ciné-Concert: Abstract Film Since 1970 (2013), and Ciné-Concert: Contemporary Experiments in Animation (2017). "Footprints", "Hedge", "The Bridge", and "Carrier" were screened in the East Wing Auditorium in 2011; "Community in 2013; and "Untitled (in dialogue with Len Lye, "Free Radicals")" in 2017. During these programs, Louden's animations were screened with other notable works, such as "Lines Horizontal" by Norman McLaren (1962); "Two Space" by Larry Cuba (1979); "Free Radicals" by Len Lye (1958); "Symphonie Diagonal" Viking Eggeling (1924); "Silence" Jules Engel (1968); and "Chemical Sundown" by Jeremy Blake (2001), to name a few. All of the animations were accompanied by live piano and percussion compositions by Andrew Simpson. Stills of animations appear in various published catalogs, such as: "Character", "Taking Turns" and "The Bridge". Ten animations (2005–2011) are also included in the Iota Center's library collection.

Public works[edit]

"Reflecting Tips" - Yahoo! Corp. Headquarters, Sunnyvale, CA - 2001

Louden has worked in the realm of public art since 1998. Her work often includes industrial materials that are transformed to resemble forms in nature, including movement that references the human body. Public Art projects include "Reflecting Tips" in Sunnyvale, California (1999–2008), "Shag Pools" in Shafer, Minnesota (2015), "Untitled" in Houston, Texas (2017), and "Windows: Reflections of Mabrey" in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2020). In 2013, Louden was commissioned by the Connecticut Department of Community and Economic Development Art in Public Spaces Program for a site-specific large-scale installation located in Oak Hall at the University of Connecticut, entitled "Merge at University of Connecticut".[19]

Louden has also made temporary public art installations, such as "Tangled Tips" at Metro Tech business park in Brooklyn, NY, through the Public Art Fund in 2000.[20]

Book projects[edit]

Louden is the editor of two books: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists and Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, both published by Intellect Books[21] and distributed by the University of Chicago Press.

The first book includes essays by artists Julie Blackmon, Sharon Butler, Amanda Church, Maureen Connor, Will Cotton, Blane de St. Croix, Jennifer Dalton, Karin Davie, Peter Drake, Carson Fox, Michelle Grabner, the Art Guys, Ellen Harvey, Julie Heffernan, David Humphrey, Richard Klein, Beth Lipman, Jenny Marketou, Maggie Michael, Adrienne Outlaw, Amy Pleasant, Melissa Potter, Justin Quinn, and Kate Shepherd, as well as a foreword by Carter Foster, deputy director of the Blanton Museum of Art and a conclusion by Ed Winkleman and Bill Carroll, director of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Studio Program.

Contributors to Louden's "Artist as Culture Producer" include Alec Soth (Little Brown Mushroom), Alison Wong (Butter Projects), Andrea Zittel, Carrie Moyer (Dyke Action Machine), Chloe Bass, Edgar Arceneaux, Mark Tribe, Matthew Deleget (Minus Space), Morehshin Allahyari, Paul Henry Ramirez, Sharon Butler (Two Coats of Paint), Steve Lambert (The Center for Artistic Activism), Tim Doud and Zoë Charlton ('sindikit), Wendy Red Star, William Powhida. Additional contributors include: Hrag Vartanian, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic (foreword), Deana Haggag, director of USA Artists in Chicago, Courtney Fink, co-founder of Common Field, and Chen Tamir Curator at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv, Israel (Conclusion).

A 164-stop Conversation Tour supported both books between 2013-2018.

Her third book, entitled "Last Artist Standing, Artists Over 50: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life," will be published next year by Intellect Books.

In addition, she is the Senior Editor of the "Living and Sustaining a Creative Life" series of books and has selected other editors covering different topics, such as "Storytellers of Art Histories: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life."[22]

Professional experience[edit]

Sharon Louden has taught studio and professional practice classes to students of all levels in colleges and universities throughout the United States since 1991, including 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. She conducts online Professional Practice Workshops for artists in collaboration with non-profit organizations, such as Creative Capital, Americans for the Arts, and the Brooklyn Arts Council. Between 2018 and 2022, she became the first woman Artistic Director of the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution in Western New York.

Since 1999, Louden has led an art-making workshop for children entitled "Glowtown". Hosting venues include museums, non-profit art centers, and public schools: the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (1999), Katonah Museum of Art (2005), Peekskill High School in Peekskill, New York (2005), the Birmingham Museum of Art (2008), the 5.4.7 Arts Center in Greensburg, Kansas (2010), the Community Library in Ketchum, Idaho (2011), the Pelham Arts Center[23] in Pelham, New York (2012), the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota (2016), the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma (2019), and Breck Create in Breckenridge, CO (2023).

From February 2012 to February 2014, Louden served as the Chair of the Services to Artists Committee of the College Art Association. She has also contributed as a board member for various non-profit organizations, including Seed Space, the Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, and Franconia Sculpture Park.

Lecture organization[edit]

Between 2009 and 2019, Louden organized and moderated the Professional Practice Lecture Series at the New York Academy of Art, which included Randy Cohen, Deana Haggag, Hrag Vartanian, Andrianna Campbell, Jerry Saltz, Roberta Smith, Robert Storr, Ken Johnson, Caroline Woolard, William Powhida, and Paddy Johnson.

Personal life[edit]

She is married to a media producer, jazz musician and activist Vinson Valega and lives and works in New York City.[24]


  1. ^ Ron Platt, "I walk the line"; Taking Turns Catalog, Birmingham Museum of Art,2008
  2. ^ Genocchio, Benjamin (12 February 2006). "ART REVIEW; Something New, Something Animated". The New York Times.
  3. ^ "Tweed Museum of Art".
  4. ^ "Transforming Spaces | Art Museum | University of Wyoming". Archived from the original on 2020-04-11. Retrieved 2020-04-11.
  5. ^ "Sharon Louden". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  6. ^ "Sharon Louden: Barriers to Entry". /
  7. ^ "UCA to Host Sharon Louden as Artist in Residence". /
  8. ^ "Sympathies: Producing, Experiencing, Interpreting Art". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  9. ^ "Dimensional Line: Recent work by Sharon Louden and Creighton Michael" (PDF). Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  10. ^ "Sharon Louden". 23 February 2012.
  11. ^ "Sharon Louden Resume". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Engage Projects - artists".
  13. ^ "Signs and symbols - artists".
  14. ^ "Artists: Collaborating | Patrick Heide Contemporary Art".
  15. ^ "Sharon Louden | Eventing | 2011". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  16. ^ Lily Wei, Sharon Louden Drawing in the Expanded Field, Character: Neuberger Museum of Art 2006
  17. ^ Dede Young, Expanded Boundaries - Interview with Sharon Louden, Character: Neuberger Museum of Art 2006
  18. ^ Barbara Weidle. "Letter from Berlin". Retrieved 8 June 2022.
  19. ^ "Department of Economic Community Development".
  20. ^ "City of Atlanta, Office of Cultural Affairs | Sharon Louden".
  21. ^ "Intellect Ltd". Archived from the original on 2018-03-03. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
  22. ^ "Storytellers of Art Histories (Book)".
  23. ^ "Town Lights up at Pelham Art Center". 12 May 2012.
  24. ^ "Deck The Halls With Artwork by DUMBO Artists!".

External links[edit]