Merritt Johnson’s work is rooted in care and endurance; navigating periphery, division, connection and intersection. Her multidisciplinary works are signals and signifiers; containers for thought and feeling. For two decades she has worked to expose oppressive fear and violence rooted in separation, to end the oppression of bodies, land, sex, and culture; while envisioning regenerative, intersectional, connected possibilities centered in collective dependence on, and responsibility to Land and Water.
Johnson is pan-sexual cis-gender woman of mixed descent, she is not claimed by, nor a citizen of any nation from which she descends. Her practice is a synthesis of necessity: refusing binaries, refusing fractions of division and control, she embraces the impossibility of disentanglement and the intersection of peripheral experiences. Johnson’s use of multiple materials and process is an affirmation of variance and a reflection of her insistence that a multiplicity of tools (and bodies to wield them) are needed to destroy oppressive systems and survive them.
She creates tools for critical thought and action: seed baskets woven in the shapes of hand-grenades and portable breathing devices, tin can telephones to listen to land, baskets woven to protect bodies or to translate a heartbeat to a love song, cast glass projectiles, paintings, prints and drawings mapping invisibility, and instructional videos to exorcise America from bodies, land and water.
Johnson is the mother and stepmother of 6 children, and holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Her work is represented by Accola Griefen Fine Art in New York and is numerous public and private collections. She lives and works with her family on Lingít Aani, her partner’s home territory, in Sitka Alaska.