Merritt Johnson was born in West Baltimore and spent her childhood navigating between trees, tarps, concrete and culture. She earned her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and her MFA from Massachusetts College of Art. A multidisciplinary artist, Johnson exhibits, performs, speaks and writes independently and collaboratively. For nearly two decades her work has navigated spaces between bodies and the body politic, between land and culture rooted in and dependent on Anowarakowa Kawennote (Turtle Island). Johnson makes reflectors and refractors; vision shifters to look at (and through) puddles of blood and oil, plastic tarps, chain link fences, cloud cover, tree lines, clear cuts, bone, skin and hair.  
She has seen and felt the effects of the tongues, knives and pens that cut apart land, culture, sex, and bodies; responding in creation of works that build connection and vision. Her works expose the ways cultural blindness and deafness to connection breed fear and violence. She sews, casts, weaves, draws, beads, paints, carves, performs, films, and projects into and out of how we are. Johnson’s works are containers for story, feeling and thought: images of what cannot be seen, exercises for existence, and political bodies. Her work casts light and shadow on how and who we are, on how and who we could be.


contact: merrittejohnson@gmail.com

Selected Exhibitions and Performances

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 ans R.I.S.E

            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


One thought on “About

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

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