Five Questions with Sharon Louden

Five Questions with Sharon Louden

Art Basel Art Fair Salon Program

Art Basel Art Fair Salon Program" at the Art Basel Art Fair, December 7, 2013. Pictured (l. to r.): Living and Sustaining a Creative Life author Sharon Louden, contributing artists Brian Tolle and Ellen Harvey, and Head of Los Angeles Nomadic Division Shamim Momin. Photo: Buzz Spector.

Sharon Louden is a full-time practicing, professional artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Louden creates animations, drawings and prints, installations and sculptures, and paintings, and she teaches and lectures. She has a passion for connecting with other artists and starting conversations about how they live their creative lives. To that end, she asked 40 of her artist friends to contribute essays on how they sustain a creative practice over time for her book Living and Sustaining a Creative Life. We caught up with her to find out more about it.

Congratulations on the publication of Living and Sustaining a Creative Life (Intellect Ltd, 2013). This was a labor of love for you - showing the reality of how a professional artist sustains a creative practice over time. With essays from 40 working artists, it's a broad sampling of possibilities. What did you take away from the artists' contributions?
Thank you so much. Indeed, this was a labor of love, and I am so grateful to the artists who gave of their time and energy to share with us how they sustain their creative lives. One of the points I took away from this book is that every artist is on the same page: no matter if an artist is perceived to be making a lot of money, or if there is a perception that they are “famous” or not, or if they are out in the public realm - they are working tremendously hard to continue creating and living as artists. I also loved knowing that from generosity comes many benefits: All of these artists are generous and give to the community in their own way through their work and beyond. And of course, I learned many ways in which artists live their lives. There is no one way of sustaining a creative life. There is no "silver bullet."

Your work includes paintings, installations, sculptures, drawings, and animations. You teach and lecture. Tell us a little of how you sustain your full, creative life.
Generally, I apply for everything that helps further my work, do a tremendous amount of research as well as correspondence, and create as many opportunities as possible. I also love and pursue collaboration with others to make things happen... all with very little sleep. I enjoy doing it all.

You have a new solo exhibition, "the dancing line: new paintings and drawings," opening on January 7 at Beta Pictoris/Maus Contemporary Art in Birmingham. What are you currently exploring in your art?
A continued investigation of my characters, of my lines in space. These paintings and drawings that I am showing in Birmingham, Alabama, are about a dialogue between flat spaces (which I call “architecture”) and the implied moving gesture (my “characters” that I have a relationship with). It is about the push and pull of obstacles and movement in and out of space. full of color and bravado.

Tell us about touring with your book. You used Kickstarter to successfully expand your tour, correct?
We are proud that we raised close to $7,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a book tour to start conversations across the country (and possibly Europe) that come from the book. Questions such as: What does it mean to be “successful” as an artist today? What are keys to living and sustaining a creative life currently? What does an artists’ journey look like today? What is the difference and distance between perception and reality? So far, we’ve done about 12 events and we have many more to go, including a conversation at Beta Pictoris Gallery in Birmingham on January 7, a big event at the 92nd Street Y with Wynn Kramarsky, Michelle Grabner, and Ed Winkleman, and another high-profile event at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, on January 23, to name a few. The growing schedule is listed on my website.

What's next for you?
I continue to make my work as well as teach, curate, conduct a lecture series at the New York Academy of Art, contribute to nonprofit organizations by serving on boards, start a new book and exhibit in a few exhibitions in the coming year – all a continuation of my life now, which I am ever grateful for.

Five Questions is a brief Q&A about books and craft, with people who love and use the American Craft Council Library.