Grant Johnson

  • Oona Brangam-Snell, I need to read your energy first, 2020, Jacquard woven cotton with hand embroidery, 92 x 48".
    picks March 04, 2021

    Oona Brangam-Snell

    In Oona Brangam-Snell’s There’s no such thing as a fisherwoman, 2020—one of ten textile works in this spirited show—a wind sock of a ghost shocks a pigtailed woman. Her line has hooked a fish and its eyes, like hers, are wide with surprise. Silhouetted irises flank a matching set of fjords, a mise-en-scène evocative of folk art, a Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and, most of all, the motif of a fabric pattern. The piece’s tongue-in-cheek title, along with its pink-and-blue palette, tease at various clichés of gender and “women’s work.”

    Informed by her job as a designer for the textile firm Maharam,

  • Matthew Angelo Harrison, Dark Povera, 2017, 3-D printer, dimensions variable.
    interviews July 30, 2019

    Matthew Angelo Harrison

    Matthew Angelo Harrison creates technically precise sculptures rich with art-historical allusion, mixing and interrogating touchstones as diverse as 1970s American Minimalism, Benin bronzes, and Adolf Loos. His work is currently on view as part of the Whitney Biennial at New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art through September 22 and “Colored People Time: Mundane Futures” at Philadelphia’s Institute of Contemporary Art through August 11. Below, Harrison discusses his sculpture Dark Povera: Manufactured Primitives, 2019, which is included in the Cranbrook Art Museum’s “Landlord Colors: On Art,

  • Lonnie Holley (right) performing at the Dallas Museum of Art on April 19, 2019. Photo: Dickie Hill.
    interviews June 18, 2019

    Lonnie Holley

    Lonnie Holley emerged as part of the American art world of the 1980s as a sculptor of evocative sandstone carvings and elaborate found object assemblage. More recently, Holley has expanded into sound with his albums Just Before Music (2012), Keeping a Record of It (2013), and Mith (2018). Below, on the occasion of a performance at the Dallas Museum of Art, as part of Soluna 2019, Holley explains the process of research and meditation that informs all of his creative work. Holley’s art is currently on view as part of “America Will Be at the DMA through September 15, 2019, and he continues to

  • Sheila Hicks, Escalade Beyond Chromatic Lands, 2016–17, fibers, dimensions variable. Installation view, Bass Museum of Art. Photo: Zachary Balber.
    interviews June 04, 2019

    Sheila Hicks

    For over seven decades, Sheila Hicks has devised a diversity of forms in fiber from the perspective of painting and photography, including weavings, sculptures, architectural commissions, and monumental installations. Her abstractions triumph and transcend hierarchies of medium, gender, and geography. Pioneering contemporary art’s global turn, Hicks embraced opportunities in novel exhibition, manufacturing, and design contexts in Latin America, Africa, India, Japan, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, well before such engagement became the norm. Below, she reflects on her upbringing in the American Midwest

  • Akosua Adoma Owusu, Pelourinho: They Don’t Really Care About Us, 2019, Super-8, color, sound, 9 minutes.
    interviews May 03, 2019

    Akosua Adoma Owusu

    The Ghanaian American filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu blends whatever she needs to make her point—including found footage, narratives, and pop culture—into films that are by turns surreal and confrontationally explicit in their meditations. Below, Owusu looks back on the first decade of her career, a milestone marked by two upcoming projects: “Between Three Worlds,” a screening of her work at REDCAT in Los Angeles on May 6, 2019, and “Welcome to the Jungle,” an exhibition at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco, which will be on view from May 9 through July 27, 2019. The

  • Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Tulip Boy II, 1989.
    books April 05, 2019

    After Life

    Rotimi Fani-Kayode, the protean “contemporary Yoruban artist,” is known for his photographs—approximately one hundred of them, taken over a mere six years—investigating queerness and the African diaspora. Born in Nigeria, he traveled to Washington, DC, New York, and London, where he participated in the sexual and punk subcultures of the 1980s before his death in 1989 at the age of thirty-four from AIDS-related complications. Here, Grant Johnson talks about the artist with Ian Bourland, whose Bloodflowers: Rotimi Fani-Kayode, Photography, and the 1980s is the first monograph dedicated to the

  • View of “Dayanita Singh: POP-UP BOOK SHOP / MY OFFSET WORLD,” 2018, Callicoon Fine Arts, New York.
    interviews November 30, 2018

    Dayanita Singh

    The Delhi-born photographer Dayanita Singh published her first book, Zakir Hussain, in 1986. The eleven books that followed, including Museum Bhavan (2017), document and form the bedrock for Singh’s observational and omnivorous photography. Interested in the photobook’s relationship to other objects and infrastructures, Singh has increasingly drafted custom objects—from bespoke cabinets, cases, and desks to bookshelves and beds—to serve as mechanisms of display and logical extensions of her project. Her work is currently featured in the Fifty-Seventh Carnegie International at the

  • View of “Edmund de Waal,” 2018.  Schindler House. West Hollywood. Photo: Joshua White. Courtesy of Gagosian.
    interviews October 30, 2018

    Edmund de Waal

    Writer and artist Edmund de Waal creates delicate porcelain vessels decisively arranged in meditative metal displays evocative of the conceptual intersection of Minimalist sculpture and modern craft. His work is currently on view in “the poems of our climate,” at Gagosian in San Francisco through December 8, 2018, and in “—one way or other—,” his first architectural intervention in the United States at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Schindler House in West Hollywood, California, through January 6, 2018, which he discusses below. 

    I’VE BEEN OBSESSING about the Schindler

  • Gracie Gardner, Athena. Performance view, JACK, Brooklyn, 2018. Abby Awe, Julia Greer. Photo: Mike Edmonds.
    performance September 21, 2018

    War of the Girls

    IN THE OPENING SCENE OF GRACIE GARDNER'S LATEST PLAY, ATHENA, the titular teenage fencer (played by Julia Greer) celebrates defeating her opponent Mary Wallace (Abby Awe) by letting out an animalistic scream. Watching Mary Wallace sob, Athena offers, “I get emotional too. Sometimes, after I lose? I’ll bump into a random person on the street, on purpose. And I won’t say sorry.” If the world demands we be either one kind of person or the other—winners or losers—Athena charts an emotional range, asking what is appropriate behavior for two young women, and what might be too much.  


  • Elaine Cameron-Weir, A toothless grin. A STAR EXPANSION! GLOBE OF DEATH A graveyard orbit, 2018, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view, Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York.
    interviews July 31, 2018

    Elaine Cameron-Weir

    In just the past year, Elaine Cameron-Weir’s diverse sculptural practice has adroitly conscripted materials including chemical lab equipment, World War II–era silk parachutes, frankincense, and labdanum, as seen in her works at the New Museum in New York and the Dortmunder Kunstverein in Dortmund, Germany, among other venues. Below, she discusses her site-specific installation A toothless grin. A STAR EXPANSION! GLOBE OF DEATH A graveyard orbit, 2018, which is currently on view at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, as part of the sculpture park’s “Outlooks” series of solo exhibitions,

  • Nina Chanel Abney, untitled, 2017, acrylic and spray paint on canvas, five panels, 96 1/8 x 60 15/16 x 1 15/16" each.
    interviews February 06, 2018

    Nina Chanel Abney

    Since appearing nine years ago as part of the influential exhibition “30 Americans,” the painter Nina Chanel Abney has established herself as an artist whose work uniquely fuses social commentary and formal play. Below, Abney discusses the evolution of her practice and her first solo museum exhibition, “Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush,” organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Currently traveling the country, the exhibition will be close to home for the Harvey, Illinois–born artist when it opens at the Chicago Cultural Center on February 10, 2018.

    THIS SHOW gives the viewer a

  • Ann Carlson, Doggie Hamlet, 2018. Performance view, Vermont Shepherd Farm, Westminster, Vermont, September 2016. Photo: Kelly Fletcher.
    interviews January 30, 2018

    Ann Carlson

    The choreographer Ann Carlson has directed attorneys, undergraduates, and goats, and has staged her work in swimming pools, hotels, and aboard trains. In 2009, she discussed Meadowlark, her collaboration with the video artist Mary Ellen Strom, for this column. As reported by the New York Times, her latest performance, Doggie Hamlet, 2018, has been targeted by efforts to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. Here, Carlson talks about the work and its presentation at UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance at Will Rogers State Historic Park in Los Angeles, February 3–4, 2018.