About

painter Gwenn Seemel self-portrait
Gwenn Seemel Key Ingredients
WHO:

Gwenn Seemel (she)

WHAT:

queer artist, humanist, and uncopyrighting advocate

WHEN:

full-time since 2003

WHERE:

Lambertville, New Jersey by way of France and Portland, Oregon

HOW:

with the help of clients and sticker lovers

painter Gwenn Seemel
photo by Molly Ross

My polka-dot cubist painting style has been delighting art lovers and inspiring artists for almost two decades now. In 2017, a tech company recognized my contribution to the look of the new millennium by naming one of their photo filters “the Seemel,” which I took as both a compliment and a cheeky challenge from our future AI overlords to keep making original art that matters.

Portraits are my first love, and I’m known for painting groups of people for the purpose of exploring particular issues, like the American immigrant experience with Apple Pie and all the ways we hide from each other with Empathetic Magic. I also create conceptual work that is not portraits. There’s this feminist science picture book for the child in each of us as well as a collaborative ABC book that includes a word search. Most recently, my focus has been on this series about mental health.

Larry R Jacobs’ Democracy under Fire featuring Gwenn Seemel’s art on the cover The Future We Need by Erica Smiley and Sarita Gupta How to Sell Your Art Online by Cory Huff Newsweek: Donald Trump ‘Make America White Again’ Art Removed From New Jersey Exhibit After Backlash Hyperallergic: Painter Illustrates the Diversity of Sex and Gender in the Natural World with a Children’s Book Chris Cozen’s Color Explorations Bust: These Powerful Portraits Show People Hiding—Then Celebrating—Their Differences The Inspiration Place: Miriam Schulman podcast Lorena Kloosterboer’s Painting in Acrylics Boing Boing: Maggie Koerth-Baker writing about Crime Against Nature Enfant et Nature, book by Valérie Chansigaud

My work has been written about by the art historian Richard Brilliant and featured widely across the web, on sites like Boing Boing, Bust, Hyperallergic, and Newsweek, as well as in a number of books!

[video transcript]

I’ve always wanted to save the world with my art, and, though I obviously haven’t been successful yet, that goal has never steered me wrong. Since 2003, I’ve been a full-time artist. Since 2010, I’ve been creating videos about art making and art marketing, like the one embedded above, and sharing them on my blog. Since 2012, I’ve been writing books, and since 2015 I’ve been connecting with some of the best people in the universe through Patreon.

[video transcript]

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.

Gwenn Seemel on the set of Hip New Jersey with Lisa Marie Latino
still from Hip New Jersey video

Gwenn Liberty Seemel is my full name. My American father wanted it to be Liberty Bell Seemel—after the great Philadelphian e-flat chimer—but made the compromise when my French mother pointed out that the famous ding-dong is, in fact, cracked.

Born in Saudi Arabia in 1981, I was raised partly in a small village in Brittany and partly in San Francisco, on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone peoples.

In 2003, I earned my BA summa cum laude from Willamette University. That same year, I launched my career in Portland, Oregon, which rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and many other tribes.

I’ve been a full-time artist for almost twenty years now, sharing my art throughout the US and also in France, Switzerland, Belgium, and Canada. These days, I make my home in Lambertville, New Jersey, on the unceded lands of the Lenni-Lenape people.

My partner and I are childfree, and, though that decision was originally inspired by my endometriosis, we’re happy with our choice. In fact, for me it ended up being a catalyst to more fully embrace my queerness—an identity that’s all about questioning traditional ideas about what women, nonbinary people, and men are allowed to do with their lives.

Selected Solo Exhibitions:
2022
Friend Request, Winifred Weiss’ Studio, Lambertville, New Jersey
2022
Baby Sees ABCs, Lambertville Free Public Library, Lambertville, New Jersey
2020
Baby Sees ABCs, Wildflowers Too, Barnegat Light, New Jersey
2019
Empathetic Magic, Lyceum Hall, Burlington, New Jersey
2019
Crime Against Nature, FIAF Montclair, Montclair, New Jersey
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:
2022
Clique21, Noyes Arts Garage, Atlantic City, New Jersey
2021
Unique Minds: Creative Voices, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
2021
Clique21, Perkins Center for the Arts, Collingswood, New Jersey
2021
Letter Love, Princeton Public Library, Princeton, New Jersey
2020
TRANSITional Art Project, public art exhibition at the railway station in Atlantic City, New Jersey
2019
A Universal Feeling, Chehalem Cultural Center, Newberg, Orgeon
2019
Drawn To - Women of Contemporary Illustration, Higher Art Gallery, Traverse City, Michigan
2019
Love and Fear, Montclair Public Library, Montclair, New Jersey
2018
The Doors of Make Room, public art exhibition throughout Washington, DC
2015
Implicit Bias, Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, Washington, DC
2014
Portraits 2, Mark Woolley Gallery, Portland, Oregon
2013
The Art of Science Policy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, DC
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
Boredom: I Learned It by Watching You, Portland Art Center, Portland, Oregon
2003
Recent Graduate Show, Blackfish Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Public Collections:
2020
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, France
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:
2022
The Future We Need, book by Erica Smiley and Sarita Gupta with Gwenn’s art
2022
Democracy under Fire, book by Larry Jacobs with Gwenn’s art on the cover
2020
Baby Sees ABCs, book 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
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
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:
2022
Lambertville Artist Creates Animal Alphabet Book, with Help from Her Youngest Fans, Courier News and mycentraljersey.com, Jenna Intersimone
2022
‘Friend Request’ Explores Artist’s Analog Reboot, Bucks County Herald, Editor
2022
‘Friend Request’ Features People Who Befriended Lambertville Artist, New Hope Patch, Jeff Werner
2022
Dan Recommends, TAPinto Princeton, Dan Bauer
2022
Two Book Covers Are Better Than One with Artist Gwenn Seemel, Out In Jersey, Lana Leonard
2022
Lambertville Artist’s Portraits Appear on Covers of Two New Books, New Hope Patch, Michelle Rotuno-Johnson
2022
Contemporary Painter Gwenn Seemel Brings Her Easel to Lambertville, TAPinto Flemington-Raritan, Tyler Barth
2022
Labor Activist’s New Book Examines Future of Collective Bargaining, The SandPaper, Victoria Ford
2022
NFTs Are Not Utopian, Artblog, Roberta Fallon and Morgan Nitz
2021
A Year of National Crisis Affected LGBTQ Artists in NJ. What Comes Next?, Asbury Park Press, Alex Biese
2021
Yoda, Moana, SpongeBob and More Mask Up, South Jersey Magazine, Elyse Notarianni
2021
South Jersey Artist Creates Mask-positive Art During COVID-19 Pandemic, The Press of Atlantic City, Molly Bilinski
2020
Gwenn Seemel’s Paintings from ‘Baby Sees ABCs’ Now at Wildflowers Too, The SandPaper, Victoria Ford
2020
Creation and Self-expression with Gwenn Seemel, Out In Jersey, Lana Leonard
2019
Donald Trump ‘Make America White Again’ Art Removed from New Jersey Exhibit after Backlash, Newsweek, Shane Croucher
2019
Anti-Trump Painting Is Deemed Inappropriate for Montclair Public Library, NJarts.net, Jay Lustig
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
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
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
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:
2022
2 Be Determined, Royal Thomas
2020
The Inspiration Place, Miriam Schulman
2020
ArtC, Bill Horin
2019
Artist Strong, Carrie Brummer
2019
Hip New Jersey, Lisa Marie Latino
2017
Your Creative Push, Youngman Brown
2016
Your Creative Push, Youngman Brown
2014
OPBWeb, Oregon Public Broadcasting, Ifanyi Bell
2014
State of Wonder, Oregon Public Broadcasting, April Baer
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:
2021
Pride Artist Talk, Princeton Public Library, Princeton, New Jersey
2021
Venture Café Philadelphia, Science Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2020
Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
2020
Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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:
2022
Project Grant, Puffin Foundation, Teaneck, New Jersey
2019
Baby Sees ABCs Kickstarter, crowdfunding campaign
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
Crime Against Nature 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