Sarah Anne Johnson Uses Mixed Media to Reveal What Photographs Can't Fully Capture
Sarah Anne Johnson makes artworks that, in her view, depict nature as “more truthful” than it appears to the naked eye. From traditional knowledge of the land passed down through generations of indigenous peoples, to the influence of ancient trees on sacred architecture and modern scientific research testing the ability of trees to communicate intelligently, the artist draws inspiration from the transcendent yet invisible aspects of nature.
Johnson takes photographs in the forests of her native Manitoba. Working intuitively, the artist transforms her 60” x 40” pigment prints into active grounds for applying both fine art and unconventional materials, such as oil paint, gold or brass leaf, sparkly holographic stickers, and photo-spotting ink, across their surfaces. At times the photographs, enhanced by hand, are flecked by a radiant spray of painted dots and dashes. At others, small biomorphic shapes stenciled in acrylic paint seem to ooze from the image or flit magically in the air. On CDMC, thickly-applied, shiny patches of oil paint trace negative spaces between tree branches and simulate stained glass windows in houses of worship. Johnson’s added forms represent with paint and brush what the eye and camera cannot apprehend; not only communication between plants, but, just as importantly, her personal experience of the landscape. “I do this to create a more honest image,” says Johnson. “To show not just what I saw, but how I feel about what I saw.”
Woodland is now on view at Yossi Milo Gallery.