Having earned a BFA in printmaking from Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2004 and an MFA from George Mason University in 2009, Johanna actively shows her work locally and nationally. While based in Denver, she has converted an Airstream trailer into a mobile print shop, which she tours across the country during summer months, stopping at galleries, boutiques, and universities. Johanna creates engravings, paintings and mixed media work that are technically intricate and visually intriguing. In order to develop her subject matter – a personal mythology – she draws from her own narrative as well as cultural and historical references, pattern, design, and the history of printmaking.
Our society subscribes to a loss of myth, forgotten rituals, and provides little thought to the understanding about the creatures with which we share the earth. In this body of work I have created a personal magical belief system to invigorate my own sense of myth, ritual and humanness. Images that began as personal narratives or animal self-portraits have morphed into totemic representations of the animal. The animal and certain symbols are elevated to mythic status as they are assigned attributes of human emotions.
Through this alteration they require the attention of the living, needing to be seen, watched, and honored as a Zuni Indian fetish. As idols, they require reverence in viewing and sacrifice of time and body in their creation. However, they are familiar as if known and remembered from the past, encompassing the role of the totem.
My own myth streams from the eyes and mouths of these animals, and yet they seek to accept the translation of the myth present in the viewer. Through the creation of each element, be it print, painting, artist book, drawing or sculpture, I invigorate the memory of shared experience and importance of narrative. The viewer is constantly forced to recognize and re-recognize each animal and what it stands for, both in the meaning I have given it and in the meaning they bestow upon it. This practice engages the viewer and produces a visceral reaction playing upon the totemic significance of the animal.