Chautauqua Visual Arts is comprised of the Chautauqua School of Art’s multimedia artists-in-residency summer program; Special Studies classes taught by CVA faculty in the Arts Quad; the Strohl Art Center, Melvin Johnson Sculpture Garden and Fowler-Kellogg Art Center galleries; The Gallery Store; and a weekly Sunday afternoon lecture.
There are also two Sunday Art in the Park open art fairs per season sponsored by Friends of the CVA that showcases dozens of CVA and Chautauqua community artists and vendors in Miller Park. There is also the Friends’ annual Stroll Through the Arts Gala.
Overseeing it all is the Sydelle Sonkin and Herb Siegel Artistic Director of the Visual Arts Sharon Louden, who is also a multimedia visual artist, educator, artist advocate and book series editor.
At 9:15 a.m. Thursday, July 28, at the Chautauqua Women’s Club, as part of its Chautauqua Speaks series, Louden will discuss “Interacting with the Chautauqua Visual Arts Program.”
Louden, who is nothing if not prolific, will “share her goals and experiences in the visual arts” and discuss her second book of essays Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists, of which she is editor. The Artist as Culture Producer: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life was published in 2017 by Intellect Books and is distributed by the University of Chicago Press.
Since she last spoke at the Women’s Club, on Aug. 14, 2019, Louden completed her decade-long organization and moderation of the New York Academy of Art’s Professional Practice Lecture Series.
She has continued to serve on the faculty of the Master of Fine Arts program at the School of Visual Arts in New York while editing her third book of essays, Last Artist Standing: Living and Sustaining a Creative Life.
Louden has also continued creating small- and large-scale visual art. She is known in particular for her whimsical use of lines and linear abstractions that imply movement, and sometimes actually do move, and for her large-scale installations made of aluminum and other media.
In 2019 and 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she installed “Windows” at the Philbrook Museum of Art within the museum’s rotunda. She crafted this bold and beautiful work of art from 83 sheets of 24 by 96 inch highly reflective raw aluminum, with colored aluminum strips ranging in size from 2 ½ by 13 inches to 4 by 24 inches.
“The highly reflective aluminum transforms, disrupts and expands the architecture of the museum, creating a vibrant environment of inclusion, conversation, and connectivity,” according to Louden’s website.
In 2020 at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Arkansas, Louden collaborated with students on a temporary public outdoor installation made largely of recycled rubber and recycled colored glass, titled “Suffrage Rugs: Amplifying Voices of Unheard Women.”
The size of one of the pieces was 25 by 25 feet, and the other — which, in addition to recycled rubber and recycled glass, was made of white sand — was 30 by 30 feet.
“ ‘Suffrage Rugs’ is a collaboration with a group of six women students from … UCA to create a temporary sculptural installation in Alumni Circle during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Louden wrote on her website.
Louden discussed the deeper meaning of the installation.
“As a component of UCA’s Suffrage Centennial, ‘Suffrage Rugs’ transcends the traditional role that women usually played in domestic chores of the home, and focuses on those lesser known women who contributed to this landmark moment in American history, such as Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, Angelina Weld Grimké, Marsha P. Thompson, and Sarah Parker Remond, to name only a few,” Louden wrote.
As part of the Suffrage Centennial Project, University of Central Arkansas’ College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences commissioned an animation. Louden produced “Seen and Heard: Amplifying Gratitude.” The National Endowment for the Arts provided a grant for both artworks.
In her 2021 creation, “The Barriers,” she used clear and colored glass rods. They were installed in Chicago through “Our Solo Show,” an exhibition of works by Louden and five other artists.
“This body of work represents a feeling of a boundary that may look clear and transparent but is too difficult to pass through,” Louden wrote. “They correspond with one another as unique objects, mimicking nature, but when together, they create a field of beautiful, impermeable forms. These colorful ‘Barriers’ appear light and elegant but are in fact dense and heavy, thereby adding to their mystery and beauty.”
To hear what she has to say in person about interacting with CVA and sustaining a creative life, join her at the Women’s Club on Thursday morning.