About

painter Gwenn Seemel
photo by Chris Seiz with The SandPaper
WHO:

Gwenn Seemel

WHAT:

artist, writer, vlogger, speaker, feminist, and free culture advocate

WHEN:

full-time since 2003

WHERE:

Long Beach Island, New Jersey by way of Brittany, France as well as Portland, Oregon

HOW:

with the encouragement and support of clients, patrons, and friends like you

painter Gwenn Seemel
photo by David Vanadia

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. That same year, I launched my career in Portland, and I’ve been a full-time artist ever since. I spent the first 12 years of my career in Stumptown and, in 2015, moved to Surf City, New Jersey, where I currently live with my partner.

painter Gwenn Seemel
photo by Gwenn Seemel

My painting style is easily recognizable—a fact that is confirmed by a tech company naming a photo filter after me. My mark-making 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 video describes the many influences that have contributed to my style over the years.

Portraits are my thing. I paint people for commission, but I also I paint groups of people for the purpose of exploring a particular issue. I exhibit these groups in conceptual shows, like Apple Pie and Subjective for example. I recently launched a new series of portraits called Empathetic Magic. I also make conceptual work that is not portraits, like this children’s book for the child in all of us that is inspired by the research of the evolutionary biologist Joan Roughgarden.

Since 2010, I have been creating videos about art making and art marketing like the one embedded here. Since 2012, 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, Boing Boing, and Hyperallergic.

In 2014, I spoke at TEDxGeneva about the role of imitation in creativity, and I 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.

painter Gwenn Seemel
screenshot of Your Creative Push

I love talking about art and creativity at conferences, but also in interviews, like with Youngman Brown for his excellent podcast Your Creative Push. At the beginning of 2016, we did my first interview and, at the end of 2017, he had me back on for another. Redbubble Blog interviewed me along with Studio Tour Magazine and Framablog. That last one is in French!

“[Seemel] is an activist in many domains as well as being an accomplished artist.”

- Frédéric Urbain, Framalog, August 2017

“Seemel is working to make a more empathetic world through art.”

- Editor, Bust, June 2017

“Seemel’s paintings are as complex as her subjects.”

- Jacqueline Klecak, New Jersey Monthly, June 2017

painter Gwenn Seemel
still from Ifanyi Bell’s video

In 2014, I created a 10 by 38 foot memorial mural for Kirk Reeves, a street performer from Portland, Oregon. A testament to Kirk’s popularity, the mural was featured widely in the Portland press, including in The Oregonian, on this episode of State of Wonder, and in a beautiful video which filmmaker Ifanyi Bell created for Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“The glimpses that Seemel has illustrated of the real wildness of the natural world [in Crime Against Nature] are fascinating.”

- Allison Meier, Hyperallergic, April 2013

“The issues at play [in Crime Against Nature] are hefty and potentially uncomfortable, but the book itself is light, playful, and pleasantly un-preachy.”

- Maggie Koerth-Baker, Boing Boing, January 2013

Résumé

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2017
Empathetic Magic, MT Burton Gallery, Surf City, New Jersey
2016
Crime Against Nature, PointCulture, 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:
2018
The Doors of Make Room, Torpedo Factory Art Center, Alexandria, Virginia
2018
The Doors of Make Room, public art exhibition throughout Washington, DC
2018
Corporeal, LITM, Jersey City, New Jersey
2018
Women’s History Exhibition, Meagher Rotunda Gallery, Jersey City, New Jersey
2017
September Show, Wildflowers Too, Barnegat Light, New Jersey
2015
Implicit Bias, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts 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, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 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
2009
Mixed, Lewis and Clark College’s Ray Warren Multicultural Symposium, 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
Public Collections:
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
Selected Publications:
2017
Clark Hulings Fund Learning Portal, article by Gwenn
2016
Enfant et Nature, book by Valérie Chansigaud with Gwenn’s art
2016
How to Sell Your Art Online, book by Cory Huff with Gwenn’s career as an example
2015
Acrylic Color Explorations, book by Chris Cozen with Gwenn’s art
2015
Crime Against Nature: The Coloring Book, book by Gwenn
2015
Widening the Cycle, exhibition catalog with Gwenn’s art
2015
Professional Artist, article by Gwenn in the April issue
2014
Painting in Acrylics, book by Lorena Kloosterboer with Gwenn’s art
2014
You Share Good, book by Gwenn
2013
Art Marketing, e-book by Gwenn
2013
T(OUR), literary art magazine with Gwenn’s art
2012
Crime Against Nature, book by Gwenn with foreword by Joan Roughgarden
2010
Subjective, exhibition catalog with Gwenn’s art and foreword by Richard Brilliant
2008
Apple Pie, exhibition catalog with Gwenn’s art and foreword by Inara Verzemnieks
Selected Reviews and Interviews:
2018
Surf City Portrait Painter Makes Public Art in DC, The SandPaper, Victoria Ford
2018
Gwenn Seemel: All About Sharing, Studio Tour Magazine, Thom Reaves
2017
Gwenn Seemel, Artiste Lumineuse, Framablog, Frédéric Urbain
2017
These Powerful Portraits Show People, Bust, Editor
2017
Art Exhibit Promotes Acceptance of All People, NJ Monthly, Jacqueline Klecak
2017
Surf City artist Shows Two Sides of Real People, Asbury Park Press, Billy Anania
2016
Featured Artist: Gwenn Seemel, Redbubble Blog, Editor
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, Editor
2016
Be a Great Storyteller, 99U, Jacqueline Lara
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, Editor
2014
Creating Art in a Series, The Abundant Artist, Cory Huff
2014
Portland street performer ‘Working’ Kirk Reeves Is Honored in New Mural, The Oregonian, James Reddick
2013
Both Artists and Scientists Observe, AAAS.org, Kat Zambon
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, Editor
2013
Crime Against Nature, Boing Boing, 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, Boing Boing, 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, Editor
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
Selected Video and Audio:
2017
Your Creative Push, Youngman Brown
2017
Pink Power Tour Festival, Marie Guibouin
2017
The Filmmakers Podcast, Damien Swaby
2016
Your Creative Push, Youngman Brown
2014
OPBWeb, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Ifanyi Bell
2014
State of Wonder, Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer
2014
Creative Insurgents, Cory Huff and Melissa Dinwiddie
2012
CubFluffer, Gabe Flores and Mark Martinez
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
Selected Speaking Engagements:
2018
The Business of Art Panel Discussion with Pierro Gallery, South Orange, New Jersey
2018
5e Colloque de l’Association pour le Développement Technologique en Éducation, Montreal, Canada
2018
South Jersey Arts Panel Discussion with ArtC, Hammonton, New Jersey
2018
Stockton University, Galloway, New Jersey
2017
PechaKucha Night, Lambertville, New Jersey
2017
4e Colloque de l’Association pour le Développement Technologique en Éducation, Lévis, Canada
2015
Rencontres Mondiales du Logiciel Libre, Beauvais, France
2014
Creative Clubhouse with Maker’s Nation, Portland, Oregon
2014
TEDxGeneva, Geneva, Switzerland
2013
Visualizing Science Policy in 20x20 with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC
2013
Portland Community College, Portland, Oregon
2011
Oregon Art Education Association Conference, Eugene, Oregon
2010
Riverside Brookfield High School, Riverside, Illinois
2007
Newspace Center for Photography, Portland, Oregon
Selected Awards:
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, crowdfunding campaign
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
Education:
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