EMMA ANNE JOHNSON
Born in 1996, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Attended The University of Vermont with scholarship for Electrical Engineering, 2014-2018
Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY
PREVIOUS LIGHTING & PROJECTION INSTALLATIONS
2017, Humanoid I, William’s Hall, Burlington, VT USA
2017, The Isham Mansion, Nectar’s, Burlington, VT USA
2018, Luminous Beings, Big Heavy World, Burlington, VT USA
2018, In the Light of it All, Parkside Lounge, Manhattan, NY USA
2018, Roots, The Sacred Root, Ithaca, NY USA
2018, Dielectric Triangulation, Upper Jay Arts Center, Upper Jay, NY USA
2019, Institutionalized, The Double E, Essex, VT USA
2019, Roost, The Lip, Burlington, VT USA
2019, Humanoid II, Alder Brook Campout, Stowe, VT USA
2020, Humanoid III, Bolton Valley Resort, Richmond, VT USA
2020, Feeling Machine, The Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, NY USA
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2018, Art Showcase, Colburn Gallery, Burlington, VT USA
2018, Art Show #7, RL Photo Studio, Burlington, VT USA
2019, Bucolic Concrete, Flynndog Gallery, Burlington, VT USA
2019, Salon Show, The Greenpoint Gallery, Brooklyn, NY USA
2020, Paint: Medium as Power in a Time of Crisis, Barrett Art Center, Poughkeepsie, NY USA
2020, The New Protagonists, Taos Art Insurgery, Taos, NM USA
2020, BLACK & WHITE, Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, Brooklyn, NY USA
2020, Art From The Lockdown Period, Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY USA
2021, Transcendence, Local Project Art Space, Queens, NY USA
2021, “Togetherness” and “Oneness”, Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, Brooklyn, NY USA
Generator Makerspace - Burlington, VT 05401
The Greenpoint Gallery Shared Studio Residency - Brooklyn, NY 11222
December 2019 - May 2020
Nancy Dwyer Artist Residency- Santa Fe, NM
Multimedia Mixtapes Episode II, link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlRurwoLy8k
ARTIST ASSISTANT/APPRENTICE EXPERIENCE
Assistant to Digital Artist Sophie Kahn - (Employed 2020)
Assistant to Sculptor/Painter Nancy Dwyer - (Employed 2016 - 2019)
Assistant to Sculptor/ Painter Clark Russell - (Employed 2019)
Assistant to Sculpture Artist Elliot Katz - (Employed 2018)
Williamsburg Art & Historical Center, 135 Broadway, Brooklyn, NY
I began making art in 2012. When I transferred to a new high school, I needed to take 4 science classes in order to graduate on time. So I signed up for Ceramics- thinking it was a science. My world changed when I stepped into the no-windowed basement cellar ceramics classroom and became friends with my teacher, ceramicist, sculptor, Mark Nagel. After a year of creating many ceramic pieces- of which most I smashed after completing, I began to deeply struggle with mental and physical illness. When I was down an arm and could no longer throw on the wheel, it was Nagel who convinced me to start drawing. As I began to fill numerous sketchbooks, I realized I no longer had to try to numb or eliminate my pain and suffering. From that moment on, ingrained in my being, was a devotion to creating artworks that not only express my suffering but also the suffering of others. I aim to continue working through my struggle, and to create art until my very last breath.
I never attended art school. I was admitted with a scholarship to the University of Vermont, Burlington, to be an electrical engineer. No matter how hard I tried to focus on a career in engineering, which could offer me a great sum of money, everything I learned and worked for went back into the process of making art. By the end of my freshman year, I was illegally using the school’s facilities of engineering labs and wood shops to print my own interactive circuit boards, construct geometric wooden forms, and make various forms of “light sculptures”. These sculptures were made of bean cans, wood from dumpsters, cheap LED strips imported from China, and my very own designed circuits. I installed them at shows in the avant-garde, underground music scene around the state of Vermont.
I started working as an assistant for Nancy Dwyer, the sculpture professor at the university. Nancy creates her life as if it were an art. A painter, sculptor, public artist, teacher, professor, creator, involved in the Pictures Generation Movement (1974-1984). Working for her I learned copious methods of producing art, and a variety of skills. She had me drywall, build walls, stretch canvases, make plaster molds, the list goes on. Her artwork and essence inspires me to coontinually explore a multitude of mediums, focus on socially charged subjects, critique capitalist views, and always look for a good laugh.
At age 20, I was still a full-time student and was working 4 jobs; one as a lighting designer at the largest music venue in Vermont, another at an electrical engineering firm soldering laser driver circuit boards, another as a research assistant for a doctoral professor of optical engineering; as well as continuing to be an artist assistant for Nancy. During that time, I was also pursuing my own artistic endeavors. I sold prints of black and white drawings and continued creating various interactive lighting installations on a frequent basis.
Approaching the end of my senior year of college, I once again suffered immensely from physical and mental illness. I got a concussion, fell into a deep depression, and experienced a seizure over the span of 6 months. I lost my job at the electrical engineering firm. The professor I was a research assistant under developed lung and brain cancer. I ended up failing out of college within the last two weeks of completion. I was lost and in a very dark stage with very steep debt. Once again, art had pulled me through. I created a large quantity of cubist and abstract expressionist inspired drawings during this time. I started to paint and play the piano. I continued working as a lighting designer, and I began to work as an artist assistant for two more artists around the Burlington, Vermont area. Through a stagehand gig, I met Burlington based artist Clark Russell. He hired me as his assistant to help him carry and transport his huge repurposed metal sculptures. An abstract sculptor, painter, and collage artist, he validated and encouraged my use of found objects in creating art- 2d and 3d. Through Nancy, I began working for Elliot Katz as well. Another sculptor, Elliot taught me how to manifest forms of physicality, deliberation, and repetition to create art that depicts the natural world in tension with the needs of people, juxtaposing finely crafted subject matter with found materials.
In august of 2019, I moved to New York City to be closer to family in Manhattan. I joined a studio in Brooklyn, and now pursue visual arts full-time. I have assisted four different artists with the production of their artworks working in all different mediums, which has refined my own technique. I constantly am reading new books, attending museums, and researching art, developing my personal philosophy and inspiration.
It is my commitment as an artist to enlarge our experiences by admitting us to a world of gentle faith. I am constantly working towards sharing where I find beauty and hope. My adoration for this life and artistic expression is how I gain strength to overcome suicidal tendencies, depression, and physical pain. Through light and through darkness, art and the world remain domains of mystery, awe, and wonder.