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On View: “Preserved”

Winter 2021
Winter 2021
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Ancestral stories are on view in the work of Ann Johnson, presented as an in-magazine exhibition.

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As a kid growing up I can remember my mother coming home from work as a nurse and effortlessly making the transition to mother earth exploring her playground. She grew collard greens, tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and even pumpkins, while maintaining a beautifully manicured lawn. She made jellies and jam from the fruit that fell from the trees in our backyard. At times she would pickle and preserve vegetables from her garden. She told me she even made moonshine once or twice. To this day my mother is an absolute green thumb. Lord knows I did not receive her green thumb, but I certainly received her gifts as an artist. Yes, she paints and draws too, makes hats, sews, and of course can cook.

My work on handmade vegetable paper includes a series of work titled: Preserved. In Preserved I print members of my family on handmade vegetable paper made of zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and yams. At times the prints are presented on white plates and bowls, and are encased in resin for preservation. The works introduce my family and ancestors in a mysterious way. The intaglio printmaking process artistically and technically reflects a sense of spirituality. My work has since expanded to include figures outside of family, but in my ancestry. My ancestors may not have considered themselves artists, “it’s just what they did.” The way I create, well, in their spirit, it is “just what I do.”

Ann Johnson, Mind Trips, 2018, 6. x 4. x 2 inches, intaglio on handmade sweet-potato paper. facing page: Ann Johnson, Because She Matters, 2020, 53 x 13 x 15 inches, transfer print and gold leaf on ironing board, embossing, found objects. All photos by Leslie-Claire Spillman, and courtesy of the artist and Spillman-Blackwell Fine Art.

Ann Johnson, Invisible Beauty, 2019, 8 x 6 x 1. inches, intaglio on feather, found objects.

Ann Johnson, Harvesters No. 2, 2019, 12 x 5 x 5 inches, intaglio on cotton, embossing, transfer print.

Ann Johnson, Beyond the Surface, 2019, 12 x 6 x 3. inches, intaglio on cotton, found objects.

Ann Johnson, Harvesters, 2019, 18 x 10 x 3 inches, intaglio on cotton, embossing, found objects.