Merritt Johnson’s work is a navigation of periphery, intersectionality, separation and connection.  Her multidisciplinary works are containers for thought and feeling. For two decades Johnson’s work has insisted on facing and destroying the oppression of bodies, land, sex, and culture. Her practice is a synthesis of necessity, a refusal of binaries, fractions of division and control. She embraces peripheral overlap and the impossibility of disentanglement. Johnson is pan-sexual cis-gender woman, not claimed by, nor a citizen of any nation from which she descends (Irish, Kanien’keha:ká/Mohawk, Blackfoot, Jamaican, Swedish). The multiplicity of materials and processes Johnson employs embody her insistence that a multiplicity of tools is 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 a portable oxygen tank, wearable bolts cutters, a tin can telephone to listen to land, a basket to translate a heartbeat to a love song, paintings mapping invisibility, and instructional videos to exorcise America from our bodies, land and water. Johnson is the mother and stepmother of 6 children, and holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) and an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston). Her work is represented by Accola Griefen Fine Art in New York. She lives and works with her family on Lingít Aani, her partner’s home territory, in Sitka Alaska.

contact: merrittejohnson@gmail.com

Selected Exhibitions and Performances

2021 Love Song

SFU Galleries Burnaby / Vancouver BC Canada

2020/2021 Wall to Wall: Merritt Johnson

Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham AL

2020  Fancy Shawl for the Frontlines

Window Gallery, Winnipeg MB Canada

2020 Extra Tough: Women of the North

Anchorage Museum, Anchorage AK

2020 Craft In America: Democracy 2020

Craft in America Center, Los Angeles CA

2020 Talisman: Magikal Objects for Revolution

Patel Brown Gallery

2020  Listen Up

Anchorage Museum, Anchorage AK

2019  Hand & I

Florida Atlantic University Gallery, Boca Raton FL

2019  Survivance and Sovereignty on Turtle Island: Engaging with Contemporary Native American Art 

Kupferberg Holocaust Center, Queensborough Community College NY

2019   Galleri Nord Norge/The Gallery of Northern Norway

           Harstad Norway

2019    Monarchs: Indigenous and Brown Artists in the Path of the Butterfly

            Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS

2018   On Being Illiberal

Prefix ICA, Toronto ON Canada

2018   The Future of Craft, Part 2

           Museum of Art and Design NY, NY

2018   Monarchs: Native and Brown Artists in the Path of the Butterfly

Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Miami FL

2018   Making Change:The Art and Craft of Activism

Museum of Design Atlanta, Atlanta GA

2018   The Condor and the Eagle: Moving Forward after Standing Rock

Elisabeth Jones Art Center, Portland, OR

2018   Woven Work from Near Here

           Grunt Gallery, Vancouver, BC Canada

2018   Exorcising America

           Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City, UT

2018   With no Memories, No Ties, No Phantoms to Tend For

           Wave Pool Gallery, Cincinnati OH

2017   Monarchs: Brown and Native Contemporary Artists in the Path of the Butterfly

           Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Omaha NE

2017   Converge

           Reed College

           Winter Count and R.I.S.E collaboration

            Postland OR

2017   Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

           Ely Center for Contemporary Art

           New Haven, CT

2017   AIM Biennial

            Bronx Museum

            New York, New York

2017   Waterline Exhibition

           Center for Visual Art, Denver CO

2017   American Domain

           Museum of Capitalism, LA

           Winter Count Collective

2017   Radiator Gallery

           Winter Count Collective

2017   Connective Tissue

            Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe NM

2017   Broken Boxes 

            form & concept, Santa Fe NM

2017   Third Space /shifting conversations about contemporary art

           Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham Alabama

2017   This is a Creation Story

           solo exhibition including collaborative works with Nicholas Galanin,

           Cannupa Hanska Luger, Ginger Dunill, Dylan McLaughlin

           Conley Gallery, CalState Fresno

2016   Hercules Projects

           New York, New York

2015   Screening of Exorcizing America: How to Shake Hands with Water

           Acting Out: Performance Symposium

           Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe NM

2016 Artist in the Marketplace Residency

          Bronx Museum of Art  NY,NY

2015 Acting Out: Contemporary Native Performance Art

          MoCNA, Santa Fe NM

2015  Custom Made

          Kamloops Art Gallery

          Kamloops, British Columbia CA

2014    Symposium international d’art-nature 

            Les Jardins du Précambrien, Val David Quebec CA

            Collaborations with Nicholas Galanin

2014   Storytelling Aboriginal Biennial

           Ontario College of Art, Ottawa, Ontario CA

2014    Cross Currents

            Fort Lewis College

            Durango, CO

2014    Aboriginal Bienniale: Storytelling

            Art Mur, Montreal , Quebec CA

2013- 2014

            Cross Currents

            Metropolitan State University of Denver, Center for Visual Art

            Denver CO

2013    Balancing Act: a performance in four parts

            Anita’s Way, 42nd Street NY, NY

            Presented by Chashama

2013    Stands With A Fist: Contemporary Native Women Artists

            Museum of Contemporary Native Art, Santa Fe NM

2013    Re-Place

            Solo Exhibition and performance

            The Foundry for Art Design + Culture, Cohoes NY

2012    Concealed Geographies

            A Space Gallery and ImagineNative Film & Media Festival, Toronto Canada

2012    Talking Stick Festival Exhibition

            Roundhouse Gallery, Vancouver BC

2011    Animal Influence

            Interactive Futures Exhibition

            Main Gallery Emily Carr University, Vancouver BC

            Salish Seas*

            Exhibition and publication (Talon Books)

            Gallery Gachet, Vancouver BC

2010    Sky Dome (props, patches, rips, and tears)

            Solo exhibition, Grunt Gallery, Vancouver, BC           

            It’s Complicated: Art about Home

            Exhibition and performance

            Evergreen Gallery, Evergreen College, Olympia, WA

2009    Double Self Double

            MacKenzie Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan

            Collaborative Performance with Maria Hupfield

2008    Sneak and Lock-pick 


            Presented by Vancouver Live Biennale Performance Society

            & the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective

            Intersections Digital Studios, ECUAD, Vancouver, British Colombia

2008    Museum Quality

            Denver Art Museum, Denver CO, United States,

            Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Colombia

            Collaborative Performances with Maria Hupfield

2007    Baby George Washington carried across the river by an Indian skin boat

            Installation, White River, Batesville AR

2005    Some Sort of Uncertainty

            Patricia Doran Gallery

            Boston MA

2005    MFA Thesis Exhibition 

            Bakalar Gallery

            Massachusetts College of Art

            Boston MA

2004    The Ocean is Never Sad (drawings and sculpture)

            solo exhibition, Patricia Doran Gallery, Boston MA

2003    Earthworms Uprooted, they were once in the mud

            In collaboration with William Earl Kofmehl III

            Sculpture on the Trail: Farmington Canal Trail, Artspace 6

            New Haven CT

Selected Activity & Publications 

2016   NEA Magazine 2016 Issue 2

             Outside the Box

2016    NEA Artworks Blog

             Art Talk, July 28 2016


2015   11 Native Artists Redefining What it Means to be Native American


            http://mic.com/articles/127677/11-native-american-artists-whose-work-     redefines-what-it-means-to-be-american

2015   Panel Reviewer SEDS Grants

           Administration for Native Americans, Washington DC

2014   Broken Boxes Podcast Episode24


2014  First American Art

           No. 4 Fall 2014


2014    PBS News Hour, Rocky Mountain PBS


2014   Social Engagement Residency

            Museum of Contemporary Native Art

            Santa Fe NM

2011    This Was Never a Knife Fight

            Artist talk presented at Interactive Futures New Media Conference, Vancouver BC

            Published in Antennae: The Journal of Visual Culture Issue 22 Autumn 2012


2011    The Inherently Political Action of Being Indigenous (unapologetically and mixed)

            Presenter, Panelist

            CAA 2011 Conference, session “Potentialities of Performance” NY, NY

2010    Adjudicator, Haida Museum

            Skidegate, Haida Gwaii, BC

2009    Adjudicator, Vancouver Olympics Aboriginal Arts Commission

            VANOC, Vancouver, BC

Mark My Words: Native Women Mapping Our Nations (Cover image)

by Mishuana Goeman, University of Michigan Press

Formations of United States Colonialism (cover Image)

Duke University Press, Edited by Alyosha Goldstein

2 thoughts on “About

  1. I’m thrilled and totally absorbed in seeing this work and the artist you’ve become, Merritt. Your work is astounding.

  2. Pingback: Ya Tseen Announces Debut Record "Indian Yard" Due April 30th via Sub Pop + Shares Video For New Track "Close the Distance" - Circuit SweetCircuit Sweet

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