Work from Niki Johnson’s series God & Country commemorative plate series is available for sale at CFile Shop. There are ten unique works and one work produced in an edition of 25. Partial proceeds from the sales help support the educational programs of CFile Foundation.
Johnson, a champion of interdisciplinary art practice, is keenly aware of the power of an object to convey a deeper cultural meaning . In God & Country Johnson explores the cultural implications of plates that were produced to commemorate churches across America but that are now left on the shelves of second hand stores, or in the back rooms of churches. No longer fundraising tools for the churches and not hanging on someone’s wall as a symbol of community, these plates now speak to stranger and broader cultural issues.
Johnson’s alteration of the plates is very subtle and elegant: she removed the central element on each plate, the church itself, by abrading away the decal and glaze. What is left is a strange blank form that is defined by the difference in texture and hue between the glazed and the raw clay. Even though this is essentially a reductive process, this silhouette of sorts becomes an eerie polygon that seems to have been imposed upon the stylized depictions of nature that once surrounded the churches.
Johnson, who is also an eloquent writer, says this about the work:
“I see removing the churches from these plates as an additive gesture, in that their removal instigates generative dialogue about changing religious practices. Without the central architectural structure on the plate, the image is seen anew; God becomes visible in the depiction of cumulus clouds, as does the hand of man in depicting idealized nature. The matte silhouette traces the countless open lots across rural America where a majority of churches have simply disappeared.”
Working across a wide range of media, Johnson always maintains sensitivity to material and, while she does not work exclusively in ceramics, her work has a lot to add to the ceramics dialogue. Below are just a few images of the many works available by her at CFile Shop. We’ve also included some images of her other work and links to some of Johnson’s writings, including her recent article Interdisciplinary is the New Black in the Huffington Post.
Johnson was named the 6th Artist in Residence at the Pfister Hotel in April, where she will be making and showing work until April of 2015. Be sure to check out the video about Johnson and the Pfister residency below.
Niki Johnson is an interdisciplinary artist, organizer and educator currently living in Milwaukee, WI. Johnson received her BFA from the University of Memphis, Tennessee in 2008 and her MA/MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012. Johnson’s recent solo exhibitions include Eggs Benedict at the Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee; An Evening of Rockwellian Taboo at the Wrong Again Gallery, Memphis; MIAD Sculpture Presents: Niki Johnson at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Milwaukee; and Mover at the Seventh Floor Gallery, Madison, Wisconsin. She currently teaches as an Adjunct Professor in the Sculpture Department at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.
Above image: Niki Johnson, Pilgrim Rest, 2013. 8 inch porcelain plate. Produced in an edition of 25. Available at www.cfileshop.org.
Any thoughts about this post? Share yours in the comment box below.
A video produced by the Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee about Niki Johnson, the 6th Pfister Artist-in-Residence