CountySt. Mary's County
MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)Prior to 2012
Artist Statement“If I had a favorite painting, it would be Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa. In its time the work was three things simultaneously - contemporary, historical, and a fiction.” The disquietude of objects becomes narrative and symbolic in the Ready-Made Dream project, which constructs a larger-than-life contemporary vanitas. Through the juxtaposition of objects of desire, a hyperreal, Kodachrome view of mid-20th century consumer culture emerges in our collective rearview mirror, fragment by accumulated fragment. The analog and digital are combined in a shallow, trompe l’oeil space in which hand-painted passages merge with the ‘broken brushstrokes’ of the pixelated image. This installation work, and the artist book-in-a-box that re-presents the project in miniature, embraces the history of still life painting, draws on bedrock art historical images, ideas, and modes that include Marcel Duchamp’s readymades and Constantin Brancusi’s Endless Column while also picturing a familiar domestic universe of abundance, convenience and planned obsolescence found in advertising images. This tenuous illusion of the real is further ruptured by the inclusion of found objects that thrust out into the spectator’s space. Unplugged and silent, vintage telephones perch in the interspaces between pictorial illusions. In the new synthetic image-space that is Ready-Made Dream, simultaneously contemporary, historical and a fiction, the transitory nature of life is presented as a contemplative experience - and like all vanitas images, delivers a cautionary tale.
Born in San Francisco, CA, Sue Johnson earned a M.F.A. in painting from Columbia University and a B.F.A. in Painting from Syracuse University. Her creative work, situated as it is at the intersection of art, science and popular culture, and focusing on such topics as the early modern museum, the picturing of nature and women, and investigating the domestic universe and consumer culture, defies easy categorization. Revisionist in method, her immersive installations, artist books and other artworks create plausible fictions that run both parallel and counter to canonical histories. Often invited by museums to develop research-based exhibition projects, Johnson has collaborated with the Pitt-Rivers Museum (Oxford, UK), The Rosenbach Museum and Library (Philadelphia, PA), Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum (Salisbury, UK), and the American Philosophical Society Museum (Philadelphia, PA). One-person exhibitions of the artist’s work have been held at the Tweed Museum of Art (Duluth, MN), University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), Midwest Museum of American Art, (Elkhart, IN), Jan Cicero Gallery (Chicago, IL), John Michael Kohler Art Center (Sheboygan, WI), University of Richmond Museums (Richmond, VA), The University of Memphis (Memphis, TN), Eleanor D. Wilson Museum (Roanoke, VA), Carleton College (Carleton, MN), McLean Project for the Arts (McLean, VA), Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts (Wilmington, DE), Walton Art Center (Fayetteville, AR), Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, PA), Anderson Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA), the Munson Williams Proctor Institute (Utica, NY), Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA), Illinois State University (Normal, IL), and Artists Space at Dance Theater Workshop (New York, NY). Selected group exhibitions include shows at the Muscarelle Museum of Art, Wave Hill, Heiner Contemporary, The Painting Center, Michael Walls Gallery, White Columns, Art in General, University of West England, Lewis & Clark College, Horodner-Romley Gallery, Weatherspoon Art Gallery and Caren Golden Gallery. She is the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Fellowship, a NEA/Mid-Atlantic Foundation Fellowship, New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship, and four Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council. She has been awarded over 25 residency fellowships in Austria, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, Italy, France, and the U.S. that include the Mac Dowell Colony, Art Omi International Artist’s Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Sam and Adele Golden Foundation Residency, CAMAC - Centre de Art - Marnay Sur Seine, Arts/Industry Kohler Art Center, Frans Masereel Centrum, Tyrone Gutherie Centre, Jentel Artist Residency Program, Ragdale Foundation, and Millay Colony for the Arts. In 2010-11 she served as Scholar-in-Residence at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Oxford, and has twice been a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome. Reviews and articles on her work have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Brooklyn Rail, New Art Examiner, and Art Papers among others. Johnson has taught painting, drawing and printmaking at Herron School of Art, I.U.P.U.I., Parsons School of Design and Marymount Manhattan College. She is currently a Professor of Art in the Department of Art and Art History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.