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Elisa Johns received a BFA from University of California San Diego and an MFA from Claremont Graduate University. Recent solo exhibitions include Kings Canyon at Ochi Projects (Los Angeles, CA) and Wildflowers at Walker Contemporary (Boston, MA). The artist has exhibited at Black Dragon Society (Los Angeles); Mike Weiss Gallery (NYC); and Elizabeth Dee Gallery (NYC). In 2018 Johns showed recent paintings alongside jewelry by artist Jennifer Odell at Morgan Lehman in the two-person exhibition, A Tale of Five Rings. Johns’ work has been written about in numerous publications including Art in America, Whitehot Magazine, and the LA Times. The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.

Artist Statement:

I have always been fascinated by the vast open spaces of the West. I am inspired by the idea of the West as an undefined space. I love the extreme ruggedness of the high Sierra Nevada and the desolate quiet beauty of the canyons and deserts. My work explores the intense emotional vulnerability I experience in these spaces. Flora, fauna, and landscape become both muse and narrative mechanism. Expansive mountain ranges and delicate wildflowers are intwined with fantasy and mythology. The inhospitable terrain depicted in my work is both beautiful and formidable. 

I apply paint in varied ways leaving expanses of white canvas with meandering passages of thick paint and large washes reminiscent of watercolor. The openness of the white ground suggests vastness and invites the viewer to fill in the blanks, a kind of collaborative visual thought. I deliberately pick out areas of the landscape to highlight, often focusing on immediate objects in my depth of field, while at other times describing a larger panorama in an effort to capture how I’ve experienced a certain space. I am influenced by Japanese landscape paintings and its focus on the transcendent and sublime beauty found in the natural world. 

I like the idea of capturing the resilience of flora and fauna in such extreme landscapes and finding an interconnectivity between the fantastical and natural world.

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