2003 – 2008
monofilament line, cage clips, electrical and floral wire, and glue
(b. 1964 — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Using more than 850 miles of multicolored monofilament line, cage clips, and electrical wire, Sharon Louden constructed hundreds of units, each of which she refers to as an “attender.” Louden originally installed “The Attenders” in the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, where these floating entities observed and absorbed all of the activity in this lively cultural center.
In arranging the bundles of monofilament line, or the attenders, Louden viewed the space as a blank sheet of paper and conceived of the entire installation as a drawing in space. The attenders, with their wig-like appearance, exude a human presence, as they seem to be arranged in social groupings. Occupying the space in multiple dimensions, the bundles interact with the viewer in a variety of ways. The black group nearest the floor anchors the attenders by inhabiting our terrestrial space and greeting each passerby, while the bundles that hover overhead seem to observe and passively bear witness to the activities below. Some bundles are gathered in cliques while others are isolated. Light also plays an integral role in the character of “The Attenders,” creating shadows on the wall and on the floor, which Louden regards as companion drawings that add to the whole.
At Progressive, Louden envisions the attenders accompanying the energy and vibrancy of the activities surrounding them. They will engage and reflect the energy that emanates from the constant flow of information both among Progressive people and with our customers. In its new home at Progressive, the installation will have a new configuration and will therefore spark a unique dialogue between the material and its viewers.
The artist took an unusual approach to financing this project: she partnered with her husband to sell shares of “The Attenders,” creating a comprehensive business plan which they presented to previous collectors of the artist's work. The team secured nine investors who played an integral part in realizing the project. After securing the monofilament line, she employed 15 artist assistants to construct the components of the sculpture over a period of four months. Louden believes that the collaborative spirit with which the piece was created and assembled, with the hard work and support of so many people, mirrors the ethics and work environment at Progressive.
Louden earned a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in 1988, and an MFA from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, in 1991. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States at such institutions as the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; The Drawing Center, New York, New York; Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts, Wilmington, Delaware; and Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Her work is also included in numerous permanent collections such as the National Gallery of Art, Arkansas Arts Center, Yale University Art Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Gallery, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. She received a grant from the Elizabeth Foundation in 2000 and has participated in residencies at Tamarind Institute, Urban Glass, American Academy in Rome, and Art Omi.