- -- WHO -- -
- -- WHERE -- -
Long Beach Island, New Jersey via France as well as Portland, Oregon
- -- WHAT -- -
full-time artist, painter, writer, and vlogger
- -- HOW -- -
with the help and support of clients, patrons, and friends like you
I am Gwenn Liberty Seemel. My American father wanted to name me Liberty Bell Seemel—after the great Philadelphian e-flat chimer—but made the compromise when my French mother pointed out that particular ding-dong is, in fact, cracked.
Born in Saudi Arabia in 1981, I was raised partly in San Francisco and partly in a small village in France. Eventually, my family settled in the United States, in Oregon, and, for over twenty years, I lived there. In 2003, I earned my BA summa cum laude from Willamette University in Salem. That same year, I launched my career in Portland, and I’ve been a full-time artist ever since. In 2016, I moved to Surf City, New Jersey, where I currently live with my partner.
My painting style has been evolving since high school, when I taught myself to use acrylic paint by making a copy of Van Gogh’s Starry Night. This blog post shows that painting and describes the many influences that contributed to my mark-making over the years.
Since 2010 I have been creating videos about art making and art marketing, and since 2013 I’ve been writing books. I am the recipient of multiple grants, from Artists’ Fellowship Inc and the Haven Foundation among other institutions. My work has been written about by the art historian Richard Brilliant and featured widely across the Web, including on sites like Scientific American, BoingBoing, and Hyperallergic. In 2014, I created the Kirk Reeves memorial mural in Portland, and this Oregon Public Broadcasting video captures the making of beautifully.
Portraits are my thing, both individual portraits and portraits in series. When I paint individuals, it’s often for commission. When I paint groups of people, it’s for the purpose of exploring a particular issue, and I exhibit these groups in conceptual shows, of which Apple Pie and Subjective are two examples.
My last project, however, did not feature portraits. Crime Against Nature is both a series of animal paintings and a children’s book for the kid in all of us, which you can read or purchase here. It explores all the ways women and men in our society feel they have to be in order to be natural, and the book includes a foreword by the evolutionary biologist Joan Roughgarden.
In 2014, I spoke at TEDxGeneva about the role of imitation in creativity. I also released a book that digs deeper into the ideas addressed in the talk. You Share Good reveals why I don’t copyright my art and why other artists might want to consider freeing their work.
What follows are some highlights from recent press I have received. There is a more complete list of articles and interviews in my résumé below.
“Seemel infuses her art with passion, color and confidence.”
“Her style is at once explosively colorful and tightly controlled—expressive faces on evocative backgrounds and pleasing shapes in elaborate settings.”
“The stakes are high in this seemingly playful and light children’s book.”
In 2014, I created a 10 by 38 foot memorial mural for Kirk Reeves, a street performer from Portland, Oregon. It was featured in The Oregonian, on this episode of OPB’s State of Wonder, and in a video which filmmaker Ifanyi Bell created for Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“[Crime Against Nature] ... reminds us that if you’re inclined to look to nature for answers regarding what is ‘normal’ ... it’s clear that nature passes no judgement.”
“The glimpses that Seemel has illustrated of the real wildness of the natural world [in Crime Against Nature] are fascinating.”
“The issues at play [in Crime Against Nature] are hefty and potentially uncomfortable, but the book itself is light, playful, and pleasantly un-preachy.”
Born 1981, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS:
- 2016 - Crime Against Nature, Point Culture, Liège, Belgium.
- 2012 - Crime Against Nature, Place, Portland, Oregon.
- 2011 - Subjective, Art Festival Museum, Edmonds, Washington.
- 2010 - Subjective, Pence Gallery, Bend, Oregon.
- 2010 - Subjective, Arts Center, Corvallis, Oregon.
- 2010 - Subjective, North View Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2009 - Apple Pie, Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts, Eugene, Oregon.
- 2008 - Apple Pie, Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, Portland, Oregon.
- 2007 - Swollen, Littman Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2006 - Mutually Beneficial, Concrete, Portland, Oregon.
- 2005 - Public Faces, City Club of Portland, Portland, Oregon.
- 2005 - Private Masks, Starling Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2004 - Snow Days, Northwest Sony Only, Portland, Oregon.
- 2004 - Trickster Project, Backdoor Theater, Portland, Oregon.
- 2003 - Critics Critiqued, Visage, Portland, Oregon.
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS:
- 2016 - Painted Poetry, Ocean County Library, Surf City, New Jersey.
- 2015 - Implicit Bias, Joan Hisaoka Art Gallery, Washington, DC.
- 2015 - Widening the Cycle, Suffolk University’s SMCR Conference, Boston, Massachusetts.
- 2014 - Art Beat Exhibition, Peoples Art, Portland, Oregon.
- 2014 - Portraits 2, Mark Woolley Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2013 - The Art of Science Policy, AAAS, Washington, DC.
- 2013 - A Chronicle of Influence, Museum and ARTspace, Lake Oswego, Oregon.
- 2012 - Image, Identity, Allegory, Dan and Gail Cannon Gallery of Art, Monmouth, Oregon.
- 2011 - A Somewhat Secret Place, PRESENTspace, Portland, Oregon.
- 2010 - Spread Ego, Place, Portland, Oregon.
- 2010 - Resonance, Anka Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2010 - Views and Reviews, Willamette University’s Art Building Gallery, Salem, Oregon.
- 2009 - Mixed, Lewis and Clark College’s Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium, Portland, Oregon.
- 2008 - A Brief History, Littman Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2008 - Keep Portland Weird, City Hall, Portland, Oregon.
- 2007 - PDX Panels, Portland Art Center, Portland, Oregon.
- 2006 - inCLOVER, Mount Scott Park, Portland, Oregon.
- 2006 - Boredom: I Learned it by Watching You, Portland Art Center, Portland, Oregon.
- 2003 - Recent Graduate Show, Blackfish Gallery, Portland, Oregon.
- 2003 - Senior Art Show, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, Oregon.
- 2014 - City of Portland’s Public Works Collection, Portland, Oregon.
- 2012 - Regional Arts and Culture Council’s Portable Works Collection, Portland, Oregon.
- 2010 - Hallie Ford Museum of Art, Salem, Oregon.
- 2003 - Willamette University, Salem, Oregon.
- 2016 - How to Sell Your Art Online, book by Cory Huff which includes Gwenn’s career as an example.
- 2016 - Professional Artist, October 2016, article by Gwenn.
- 2016 - Professional Artist, August 2016, article by Gwenn.
- 2016 - Professional Artist, February 2016, article by Gwenn.
- 2015 - Acrylic Color Explorations, book by Chris Cozen which includes Gwenn’s art.
- 2015 - Crime Against Nature, the coloring book, book by Gwenn.
- 2015 - Professional Artist, December 2015, article by Gwenn.
- 2015 - Professional Artist, August 2015, article by Gwenn.
- 2015 - Widening the Cycle, exhibition catalog which includes Gwenn’s art.
- 2015 - Professional Artist, April 2015, article by Gwenn.
- 2014 - Painting in Acrylics, book by Lorena Kloosterboer which includes Gwenn’s art.
- 2014 - You Share Good, e-book by Gwenn.
- 2013 - Art Marketing, e-book by Gwenn.
- 2013 - T(OUR) April 2013, literary art magazine which includes Gwenn’s art.
- 2012 - Crime Against Nature, book by Gwenn with foreword by Joan Roughgarden.
- 2010 - Subjective, exhibition catalog featuring Gwenn’s art with foreword by Richard Brilliant.
- 2008 - Apple Pie, exhibition catalog featuring Gwenn’s art with foreword by Inara Verzemnieks.
SOME REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS:
- 2016 - Featured Artist: Gwenn Seemel, Redbubble Blog, Staff.
- 2016 - Character Craft, The SandPaper, Victoria Ford.
- 2016 - Droit de copie, Tout va mieux, Julie Guillot.
- 2016 - Ce qui est (vraiment) naturel en termes de genre, Mr Mondialisation, Staff.
- 2016 - Be a great storyteller, 99U, Jacqueline Lara.
- 2016 - Is it nipples or eyeballs at LBI gallery?, Philadelphia Inquirer, Amy Rosenberg.
- 2016 - An interview with artist Gwenn Seemel, Jackson’s Art Blog, Christine Holland.
- 2015 - Les portraits et les idées de Gwenn Seemel, Pigmentropie, Elize.
- 2014 - Of mouse and man, Willamette Week, John Locanthi.
- 2014 - You’re not a proper patron of Portland’s arts scene until you’ve..., Willamette Week, Staff.
- 2014 - ‘Working’ Kirk Reeves is honored in new mural, The Oregonian, James Reddick.
- 2013 - Both artists and scientists observe, AAAS.org, Kat Zambon.
- 2013 - Sex, gender, and us animals, About.com, Cory Silverberg.
- 2013 - Is homosexuality natural?, Scientific American, Kalliopi Monoyios.
- 2013 - Love in the wild, Apartment Therapy, Tess Wilson.
- 2013 - Painter illustrates the diversity of sex and gender, Hyperallergic, Allison Meier.
- 2013 - Our crime against nature, The Quiet Lunch, Staff.
- 2013 - Crime against nature, BoingBoing, Maggie Koerth-Baker.
- 2012 - Les bonnes recettes du libre, OWNI, Lionel Maurel.
- 2012 - Imitation is still the sincerest form of flattery, Tech Dirt, Leigh Beadon.
- 2010 - HOWTO make art without getting ‘ripped off’ online, BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow.
- 2010 - Paint by numbers, The Portland Business Journal, Matthew Kish.
- 2010 - 1 Project, 2 artists, 10 subjects make a world of difference, The Oregonian, Margie Boulé.
- 2009 - Interview: Gwenn Seemel, Sweet Station, Welshie.
- 2009 - Art for politic’s sake, The Oregonian, Staff.
- 2009 - Leonard portrait is flattering, all right, Oregon Live, Mary Kitch.
- 2007 - Faces from the edge of the earth, The Oregonian, Inara Verzemnieks.
- 2006 - In the market for some portraits, The Oregonian, DK Row.
SOME TELEVISION, RADIO, VIDEO AND AUDIO INTERVIEWS:
- 2016 - Your Creative Push, Youngman Brown.
- 2014 - OPBWeb, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Ifanyi Bell.
- 2014 - State of Wonder, Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer and Ifanyi Bell.
- 2014 - Creative Insurgents, Cory Huff and Melissa Dinwiddie.
- 2013 - The Abundant Artist, Cory Huff.
- 2013 - CultureWok, Gaëlle Pertot.
- 2012 - CubFluffer, Gabe Flores and Mark Martinez.
- 2010 - 10 O’Clock News, KPTV, Sophie Soong.
- 2010 - Oregon Art Beat, Oregon Public Broadcasting, KC Cowan.
- 2008 - EZone, PDX49, Chloe Houser and Darcy Zettler.
- 2004 - 10 O’Clock News, KPTV, Shauna Parsons.
- 2003 - Artstar Radio, KPSU, Eva Lake.
SOME LECTURES AND CONFERENCES:
- 2017 - 4e Colloque de l’Adte, Lévis, Canada.
- 2016 - The Abundant Artist Conference, Portland, Oregon.
- 2015 - Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre, Beauvais, France.
- 2014 - Creative Clubhouse with Maker’s Nation, Portland, Oregon.
- 2014 - Superthank, Portland, Oregon.
- 2014 - TEDxGeneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
- 2014 - Soul Food, workshop series on the Web.
- 2013 - Visualizing Science Policy in 20x20 at the AAAS, Washington, DC.
- 2013 - David Douglas High School, Portland, Oregon.
- 2013 - Portland Community College, Portland, Oregon.
- 2011 - Oregon Art Education Association Conference, Eugene, Oregon.
- 2010 - Riverside Brookfield High School, Riverside, Illinois.
- 2009 - Pecha Kucha Night, Eugene, Oregon.
- 2008 - Super Project Lab, Portland, Oregon.
- 2007 - Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, Oregon.
- 2017 - Participant, Creative Capital Professional Development Program, Trenton, New Jersey.
- 2013 - Curators’ Award, Festival of the Arts, Lake Oswego, Oregon.
- 2012 - Emergency Relief Grant, Haven Foundation, Brewer, Maine.
- 2012 - Emergency Relief Grant, Artists’ Fellowship Inc, New York, New York.
- 2012 - Project Grant, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Portland, Oregon.
- 2011 - Kickstarter, crowd-sourced funding via the Web.
- 2010 - Emergency Relief Grant, Haven Foundation, Brewer, Maine.
- 2009 - Emergency Relief Grant, Artists’ Fellowship Inc, New York, New York.
- 2009 - Emergency Relief Grant, Change Inc, Captiva, Florida.
- 2009 - Project Grant, Celebration Foundation, Portland, Oregon.
- 2009 - Career Opportunity Grant, Oregon Arts Commission, Salem, Oregon.
- 2008 - Project Grant, Regional Arts and Culture Council, Portland, Oregon.
- 2003 - Member of Phi Beta Kappa.
- 2003 - BA in Studio Art and French, summa cum laude, Willamette University, Salem, Oregon.
- 2002 - Magenia, Ella Jaroszewicz’s school for mime and dance, Paris, France.