Stacie Johnson

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Artist Statement

I have been making paintings consistently for over 15 years and the practice propels itself. I don’t feel as if I have much control over the images I make and, yet, it feels necessary to keep making them. I have always found a kinship with outsider art and the work of abstract painters who speak of the spiritual in their art. It is important for me to follow an artist’s work through time and to consider each of my own paintings within a larger and longer practice.

To make a painting is to look for a new image. I do not set out with a clear view and instead, use the canvas to have a conversation with my materials. My process uses various methods to design and edit the composition. I begin in the studio with intuitive and non-objective mark-making. In response to those marks, I integrate more controlled ways to make decisions. Shapes are cut from paper and taped onto a work-in-progress, rearranged, and used as stencils. Works-in-progress are photographed and imported into Photoshop where I can try out color adjustments and visual effects. These methods of planning and experimenting allow for the application of paint to be a meditative process.

I am interested in abstract painting as a dialogue about the limits of visual information and the edge at which the painted image ends and the actual object begins. My paintings create illusions of a shallow three-dimensional space similar to the actual depth of a stretched painting on canvas. This is an extension of a trompe l’oeil space explored more intensely in previous work. As this space becomes more abstract, there is a visual play between shadow and pattern and a push-pull between foreground and background. Raw linen is the “background” used in many of the paintings on canvas. It is explored as evidence of the object but also as another texture and color in the composition. Some paintings are on shaped paper and these works best articulate my exploration of the edge between depicted and actual space. Shaped paper “cut-outs” are mounted within shaped wooden frames. Both are painted and the two compositions interact, confusing positive and negative space. In these works the trompe l’oeil space is more real than illusory. Some shaped paper “cut-outs” are painted on both sides, displayed on a pedestal and propped up with custom stands. In all of this work, I am emphasizing an interaction between the space depicted in the painting and the actual space the work inhabits. Whether the “background” space is the raw canvas, the frame, the wall or the entire room, my paintings aim to articulate themselves as oscillating between image and object.

I want my paintings to be interesting to look at from varying distances and for the process of looking to be slow and surprising. The illusory space depicted in my work is both sculptural and digital. Translating digital layers and effects into paint on canvas is more time-consuming than making the image in the computer. I am interested in how this allows for surprises as you read the image quickly from afar yet discover a slower energy once you see the materiality of the paint up close. I’m exploring the interaction of more than one medium, sculpture and painting, and a process that is both digital and hand-made.

The combination of living in NYC and being a mom has shortened my attention span and my studio practice into little blips. Using the computer helps me take advantage of spurts of creative output that can happen during naptime, for example, and allows studio hours to be used more efficiently. The resulting compositions have distinct sections and styles of marks. There are often little paintings within a larger one. Gestural marks are constrained into small areas. The work has come to represent a tightly strung and interrupted mental state. Throughout my practice, the work connects to my life and lifestyle in this way. When single and working in a home studio, the practice allowed me to meditate on my interior space. Still-life arrangements and domestic scenes depicted an introspective mood. When I had a separate studio space and a lifestyle with long days in the studio, I painted meticulous portraits of abstract sculptures made out of studio debris. Now the work is more likely to reflect various locations at once, the spora dic energy of a rush hour commute, or the elements of Montessori shape and Preschool pattern activities.
To follow each painting through from beginning to end and to witness my practice over time brings meaning to abstract form. Each painting is a self-portrait and a record of time and place. The practice is fulfilling because I witness psychic content manifesting itself in physical materials. Emphasizing the sculptural and digital within a flat painting, and examining the edge of where the painting begins and ends, are my ways of expressing to the viewer how much magic there is in a practice of making paintings.



b. 1977 Spirit Lake, Iowa


M.F.A. Studio Arts, 2004 University of Illinois at Chicago
M.F.A. Candidate, Studio Arts, 2001-2002 University of Wisconsin at Madison
B.A. Communication Studies, 1999 University of Iowa


2013 Stacie Johnson, Bull & Ram Gallery (a migrating curatorial space), Queens, NYC
2010 Pizza, Ebersmoore, Chicago
2010 Diamond in the Middle, SOFA Gallery, Austin, Texas
2008 Mise en Scene, Mini Dutch, Chicago
2008 Here and Now, ThreewallsSOLO, Threewalls, Chicago
2007 Making Faces, Old Gold, Chicago
2006 Stacie Johnson, Gallery 2, University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
2005 Staying In, Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago


Hot Slice, curated by Liz Nielsen and Carolina Wheat, Zolla Lieberman Gallery, Chicago, IL
Of Boldness and Subtlety, curated by Gabrielle Garland, Hap Gallery, Portland, OR

Ducks, curated by Ryan Travis Christian, Greenpoint Terminal Gallery, NYC & Minotaur Projects, Los Angeles, CA
I’m Jealous of Your Failures, curated by Trew Schriefer, University Galleries, Normal, IL
OFFLINE, curated by Sarah Sharp, Radiator Gallery, Queens, NYC
Off The Wall, Parallel Gallery, Queens, NYC
Regina Rex: New Threads, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Surface, Judith Racht Gallery, Harbert, MI
#throwbackthursday/#flashbackfriday, Calico, Brooklyn, NYC
Head, Institute Library, New Haven, CT

Flashback (window installation), 111 Front Street, Dumbo Arts Festival, Brooklyn, NYC
Regina Rex: Part II, Eli Ping Gallery, NYC

The Other Picture, Gallery FAB, University of Missouri-St. Louis, MO
Capella, Kidd Yellin (now Pioneer Works), Brooklyn, NYC
Still Life, Art Palace, Houston, TX
The Myth and the Mountain, COHORT collective, Brooklyn, NYC
Heavy, curated by Elizabeth Ferry, Place Gallery, Brooklyn, NYC

Coil Contract, curated by Vincent Como, Horse Trader Projects, Aqua Art Fair, Miami, FL
I Forgot My Mantra, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Brooklyn, NYC

The Yield: 2009 Resident Exhibition, Harold Arts @ Heaven Gallery & Johalla Projects, Chicago, IL
Joseph Frasca Memorial Works on Paper Exhibition, Around the Coyote Gallery, Chicago, IL
Artists Run Chicago, (exhibited with Mini Dutch & Old Gold), Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL
Myth in Material, curated by Elizabeth Chodos, Alogon Gallery, Chicago, IL
Suspend, Roots & Culture Contemporary Art Center, Chicago, IL

Swimming Pool Project Space Booth, BRIDGE, Miami, FL
An Associate Degree in Science, (traveling) @ The Finch Gallery, Chicago, IL; Open Lot Gallery, St. Louis, MO & The Pampered Banana, Kansas City, MO
Bitchen, curated by Nina Rizzo, BadDogGallery, Dekalb, IL
Old Gold Artists’ Project, NEXT Fair, Chicago, IL
COMA #18: The Final COMA, COMA (California Occidental Museum of Art), Chicago, IL
Faculty Biennial, University Galleries, Illinois State University, Normal, IL

…and i am blue…, McLean County Arts Center, Bloomington, IL
Open, Fivepoints Arthouse, San Francisco, CA
COMA #11, COMA (California Occidental Museum of Art), Chicago, IL
Surroundings Revisited, curated by Per Knutas, School of Art Gallery, Kent State University, Kent, OH

60th Juried Exhibition, juried by Valerie Cassel Oliver, Sioux City Art Center, Sioux City, IA
To London from Chicago, with great love, Artledge @ icabin, London
COMA #1, COMA (California Occidental Museum of Art), Chicago, IL
John Van Wmson, BSD (Butchershop-Dogmatic), Chicago, IL
Almost 30, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS

Lisa Boyle Gallery Booth, Aqua Art Fair, Miami, FL
NOVA Young Art Fair, (Contemporary Art Workshop), Chicago, IL
Spring Break Chicago 2005, Butchershop, curated by ArtLedge, Chicago, IL

Stacie Johnson & Kimberly Miller, Jody Monroe Gallery, Milwaukee, WI
Den Nya Framtidsvetenskapen (The New Science Fiction), Lisa Boyle Gallery, Chicago, IL
Other Spaces, Contemporary Art Workshop, Chicago, IL
MFA Thesis Exhibition, Gallery 400, University of Illinois at Chicago, IL
Juventis, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL


Contemporary Artists Center – Woodside, Troy, NY, Summer 2012
Harold Arts, Southeastern Ohio, Summer 2009
Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, VT, Summer 2005


Recipient, Rema Hort Mann Artist Community Engagement Grant, 2015
Nominee, Rema Hort Mann Emerging Artist Grant, 2014
Special Assistance Grant, Illinois Arts Council, 2006
Full Fellowship, Vermont Studio Center Residency Program, Johnson, VT, 2005
Visual Arts Scholarship, Union League Civic & Arts Foundation, Juror: Hamza Walker, Chicago, 2004
Vera Chreptowsky Award, Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL, 2004


“Top 5 Weekend Picks,”, Bad At Sports Contemporary Art Talk, Chicago, IL, July 17-19, 2015
Collier, Patrick, “Eyes bigger than your gallery,” Oregon Artwatch, January 17, 2015
Elizabeth Johnson, “Off the Wall at Parallel Art Space in Queens,”, March 18, 2014
Linnea West, Regina Rex’s Group Think: Brooklyn Collective at UGA’s Gallery 307,, February 2014
Jessica Smith, Covered Walls and Windows,, February 2014
Amie Zimmer, Greenpoint Gallery Night, The Magazine of The School of Art & Design, Parsons, September 2013
Cair, Patrick, Sculpture-based Paintings by Stacie Johnson,, September 2012
Artist of the Week: Stacie Johnson, LVL3 Gallery blog,, August 10, 2012
Hurst, Howard, Who is Regina Rex?,, August 2, 2012
Stacie Johnson, Chicago Painting (blog), May 6, 2010
Featured Artist, Design for Mankind, (website) August, 2009
Ise, Claudine, “Small is (Usually) Good,” Bad at Sports Contemporary Art Talk, (blog) March 2, 2009
Nichols, Thea Liberty, “Hanging with Paintings in Suspend,”, January 19, 2009
Funari, Rachel. “Recommended: Review: Suspend/Roots & Culture,” NewCity, January 26, 2009
Edwards, Natalie, “Recommended: Review: Stacie Johnson/Mini Dutch Gallery,” Newcity, October 26, 2008
Itch ONLINE, NonText Section, Edition No. 2: “Entry to Asterisk Land,” September 2008
Klein, Paul. Artletter, (blog) 05/16/08
Foumberg, Jason, “Breakout Artists 2008” NewCity, Arpril 24, 2008
“Voices: Stacie Johnson,” NY Arts Magazine, March/April 2008
Harmanci, Reyhan. “North Beach gallery opens with ‘avant’ work,” San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 4, 2007
Interview with Katie Geha:”The Little Diamond is Our Little Secret,”, July 11, 2007
IMAGE: Chicago Reader, June 8, 2007
Shinn, Dorothy. ‘Minimalists Dot Landscape,’ Akron Beacon Journal, February 4, 2007
New American Paintings, 2006 Midwestern Competition, Volume 65, Juried by Carl Belz
Weinberg, Lauren ‘John Van Wmson,’ Time Out Chicago, February 2-9, 2006
‘John Van Wmson,’ Flavorpill, Issue 70, January 17-23, 2006
Shull, Chris. ‘First Steps, First Show,” The Wichita Eagle, Friday, January 13, 2006
Workman, Michael, ‘Ladie’s Night,’ New City, January 12, 2006
Picket, Debra, ‘Make No Mistake, There’s A Message Here,’ Chicago Sun-Times, Friday, April 4, 2003


Negative Space, Knockdown Center, Queens, NYC, February-April 2015
Co-Founder, Regina Rex, artist-run curatorial collective and gallery, Queens, NYC, 2010-2014
Visual Arts Editor, Make: A Literary Magazine, Chicago, IL 2008-2014
Lifestyle Objects and Community Plant Swap, The Active Space, Brooklyn, NYC, May 2012
Cross-Fade, Swimming Pool Project Space, Chicago, IL, February 2009
threehundredsix, co-curated with Michael Behle, Hoffman-LaChance Contemporary, St. Louis, MO, 2008


Instructor, Pi Arts Center, NYC, Summer and Fall 2015
Instructor, DePaul University, Chicago, IL – Summer 2009
Instructor, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL, Fall 2008
Instructional Assistant Professor (Full-time NTT), Illinois State University, Normal IL, Fall 2006–Spring 2008
Visiting Assistant Professor, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, IL, Fall 2005 – Spring 2006
Instructor of Record, University of Illinois @ Chicago, IL, Fall 2002 – Spring 2004