Chautauqua is stop number 44 of 94 for Sharon Louden as she promotes her new book, The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Hultquist Center, Louden will discuss the book she edited, which came out in February and includes essays by 40 artists concerned with creating bridges between the art world and the public.
“Through these people, we see how contemporary artists sustain their lives, but also how they define who artists are today,” Louden said.
The lecture, in which Louden will also discuss her own artwork and sign books, mostly concerns “what it means to be an artist,” she said.
For Louden, being an artist means creating work, but also curating shows, serving on the boards of nonprofit organizations and publishing books.
“I don’t think my story is unusual,” she said. “Artists today wear multiple hats.”
Louden’s main reason for putting the book together was to provide young artists with better resources. She remembers how, after graduating with her M.F.A. from Yale University School of Art in 1991, she didn’t have a supportive community of artists.
“I wasn’t happy about that,” she said. “I wanted to also see a book on the shelves that shares, at least starts a conversation about how artists sustain a creative life, in order to help other artists.”
Louden is all about creating opportunities for other artists. It’s not something she’s “proud” of, per se, but rather something she’s happy and grateful to be able to do.
“I love making opportunities for other artists; I love making connections with other artists, being a catalyst for opportunities,” she said.
Louden works with Creative Capital Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, and also coordinates a lecture series for the New York Academy of Art. While at Chautauqua this week, she’ll visit student studios, give group critiques and teach a seminar.
Louden said she tries to be an active member of the arts community.
“I’m proud of just living as an artist,” she said. “I do want to emphasize that artists not only contribute to the creative economy, but we really contribute to the well-being of others, in a tremendous way.”
Now Louden is working on a book about artists over the age of 50 called Last Artist Standing: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life, scheduled for release in 2020. She was also recently awarded a contract to be a senior editor for a series of 10 books over the next decade. As senior editor, Louden will give book contracts to other editors for the new series, which will focus on the theme of “living and sustaining a creative life,” exploring fields like dance, theater, art history and writing, rather than solely visual arts.
“I am going to be busy,” she said.