JJ / JANUARY 2016

I play in a sacred place
where powerful moments exist,
long before ideas have reached full expression
in conventional images or language.
Sometimes I hide there too.
And it’s here in my playground
where I juxtapose elements of our sensate world,
hopscotching between disciplines until I’m satisfied
that a meaningful conversation has been put on the table,
and amplified at high volume — as an artwork.



TOUCHED VIDEO STATEMENT
JJ / JANUARY 2014

After the TOUCHED book was released,
I still felt compelled, even driven — to continue working with the gloves.
I couldn’t get them fast enough.

There was so much more that needed to be said
and I couldn’t say it any other way —
except as an installation.

Through my personal journey with this installation
I have come to a fuller understanding in the discovery
that our hope for meaningful communication
can only become reality via personal relationship,
the desire for which is built into our DNA;
a kind of relationship that has the potential to heal our spirits
and enable us to forgive each other for our differences and
imperfections as we learn how to forgive ourselves.

Although I may never know all that it means,
this body of work continues to speak to me and teach me,
and I have come to understand that, while connection and communication
has served as a catalyst, fueling the first 10 artworks,
this last work, in its fullest sense, is about healing,
my healing and yours.



"ASHES for BEAUTY"
(Johnson's Statement)
JJ / MAY 2012

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by light and space. Of course, I didn’t think of it in those terms at that point in my life. But the fascination was there.

When I was five years old, my brother and I were sent to live with my grandparents in Northern Michigan, about 300 miles from where my parents lived. My playground was 80 acres of the most fragrant cedar and pine imaginable. We lived in a house my grandfather built on an acre (or so) clearing he had made himself. I would gaze out the living room window for what seemed like hours (at least to my grandmother), excited and fascinated by what I was seeing in the center of my imaginary frame. No one else could see it. No one else was patient enough even to try, although I endlessly tried to share the experience with others.

My fixation was on the changing shapes of the space between things, and on the colors of those spaces. To be sure, I loved the wild yellow buttercups and the black-eyed Susans and the gorgeous wild grasses. But they were a given. I could count on them always being there, always available. Whereas the ever-changing spaces between them, and the rainbow color-changes of those spaces, especially at sunset and sunrise, all mixed with the foggy moisture filtering through the sunlight... well, all that was magical, something elusive, something to be captured.

I have been trying to recapture that ever since — not the exact imagery, but the sensations of the experience.



JJ / 2012

I find it difficult to speak about my art. If I could, I wouldn't have to make it.

The work is coming from a place deeper than thought. When trying to describe what I am painting — words hide.

While creating an artwork, I am led from one shape to another, as a poem travels from one word to another. With the first leading the way. Color is a given — without thought. I have never said, I think I will make a blue painting and so forth.

The core of my work is not seen. Its essence, like life, begins beneath the surface — under the layers. Usually, starting with a shape, although that doesn't necessarily mean paint.

Color is always there. Every artwork oozes with color: from vibrant, rich jewel tones to moody, grayed down pastels. The work embraces them all. Color is a reflection of the emotional undertone. It is what it is. If it needs to scream, I let it.

The work is physical, often aerobic. I'm all over it: shape to shape and color to color. All the while building, until I am satisfied with the whole. Christopher Slatoff, a world renown sculptor and teacher, says that I paint as a sculptor. And, maybe it's true.

During the in-between, both creation and demolition take place simultaneously.

Letters play a significant role and occasionally words matter as well. It's the shape of individual letters or groups of letters that fascinate me, and I rarely notice what the letter combinations spell. I get lost in the beauty of the various shapes: a pleasure I have delighted in since early childhood. Having grown up surrounded by foreign languages and papers, it still feels comfortable to have them around.

Thus, foreign print is used throughout my work; both languages and content are always specific — never random.

Mixing media is a natural response to my ongoing conversation with the artwork at hand: never something that I strive toward or manipulate. At seventeen, I was doing it in my first college art classes: smearing charcoal into my oils, stitching thread onto the canvas and pushing little pieces of wire and whatever into the paint.

Currently, non-objective art absolutely captivates me. I am seduced by the space of it. As a musical composition on its way to becoming a song must leave space for a lyric or story line, I want my art to do the same so you have room to imagine, wonder and fill with your own story.

Conversely, if I paint an object-oriented work, the space has already been filled, by me — the artist. It is final! The questions are answered and the storyline has been written. My way of reaching out to you is to leave some space in my room for you to fill as you wish. It's your turn. And it is my deepest hope that you will take pleasure there...and maybe stay with me. At least for a little while.