We are excited to present our sixth solo show of new photographs by Sarah Anne Johnson entitled Field Trip. Johnson has returned to the music festivals of her youth that she now visits as an observer rather than a participant. Described by a critic as a “blissed-out escape” she conveys the pastoral utopia of summer festivals filled with Bacchanalian youth camping out, carousing, drinking, making love and getting high.
She does not suppress the grittier side of festival culture: images of beer cans and passed out revelers amidst the bucolic surroundings. Johnson uses a full range of psychedelic color, techniques and materials including cut-outs, glitter, paint and digital manipulation. We do not see the “entertainment” but rather the campgrounds and parking lots of these “right of passage” gatherings. Johnson considers her work to be documentary, but in the sense of recording her perceptions. “I can show what the place looks like, but I can also reveal the psychological landscape, the group mentality.” In addition to the inclusion of over twenty-five new works in Field Trip, Johnson will present a life-size figurative sculpture of a young woman in the Project Gallery. Johnson almost always includes a sculptural component in her projects and here the figure likely suggests a surrogate for the artist.
Johnson’s work catapulted on to the scene in 2006 with her Tree Planting exhibition. This idealistic narrative project displayed an extensive series of photographs, both straight and constructed of sculptural tableaux, concerned with youth and nature, hard work and play. Johnson is a storyteller, and she subsequently created major projects on disparate themes. These offer increasingly experimental and varied use of media from sex and intimacy in Wonderlust (2013,) Arctic Wonderland, (2011), House on Fire (2009), an intense multi-media installation based on her grandmother’s experience with mind control, and The Galapagos Project (2007) on volunteer tourism. Field Trip represents a much more savvy and sanguine view of youth than her vision of a decade ago.
In 2015 the Contemporary Art Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina mounted a mid-career survey with an accompanying monograph titled Wonderland, curated by Steven Matijcio. She was the recipient of the Grange prize in 2008, the largest international photography prize, and she has been nominated twice for the prestigious Sobey Art Award.
Sarah Anne Johnson received an MFA in Photography from Yale in 2004. She has exhibited internationally, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Guggenheim in New York and Bilbao, the Cartier Foundation and the Maison Rouge, Paris, and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne and has been exhibiting and performing widely in Canada. The Guggenheim Museum, New York, the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C. own extensive holdings of her work.