Sharon Louden is a well respected and very talented artist who does a bit of everything. She’s taught at several universities over the past twenty years and has shown all over the world. Most recently, she’s edited a book of essays about artists making and living called Living and Sustaining A Creative Life. Through forty essays from forty different artists, you get a look at how creatives work and how they are able to propel themselves forward within often amorphous creative fields. It’s a very real, very honest peek into the world of artists.
This relationship to other artists and their practices has also found its way into her work. While she has been busy book touring and getting the project off the ground, she also created a body of work called Community. The works are made from oil and enamel and feature strings of color in very patient settings that easily could be left at being studies of shape. They aren’t, though: they are symbols of all the work she has been doing, explained visually.
The series uses the recurring image of a table. Table legs are confused for colorful squiggles and there is not a definite plane that these objects exist in. She doesn’t overfill her canvas and chooses very specific color movements and shapes to populate the work. Some rectangles block certain colors or activity but they all are present, working together. This paired with the table image makes for a visual metaphor, that she and her work with other artists (and the book) is a gathering of like minds to discuss their success and problems and values. They’re active discussions through the abstract, a statement that “everyone can come to the table” regardless of how you look or what size you are or what you are and are not capable of in art.
Whether this reading of the work is accurate or not, Louden’s paintings are remarkably upbeat and positive which is something we always want to support. Community has also evolved out of nearly a decade of study in this world and the set itself is so much more than the obvious. She’s made abstract rooms in the home of art on canvases that, along with her book, invite the artistically curious in to hang out.