From an early age, I wanted to spend most of my time drawing and painting pictures. An annual cross-country train ride from Chicago to Los Angeles to visit my grandparents as a child are some of the earliest memories I have of being captivated by landscape. I’d watch the big Western sky expand, the landscape unfold. In high school, I learned about the Bauhaus school and the early Modernist techniques of seeking essences from objects or experiences in the real world. The merger of philosophy and science, form and function, had a significant influence on me.


When I moved to New York City in the early eighties after graduating from Yale’s MFA program in Design, I was exhilarated by the creative energy and distance from the Midwestern pace I’d grown up with. Survival was my priority, so my art developed slowly without much outside interest or exposure while I worked as a designer, frequented galleries, and socialized with artists. The collage making approach became my primary way to express and develop my visual ideas. I was and remain inspired by artists that interrogated structure within their works, connected to nature, and found freedom in intuition. I seek to create a free-flowing image that is more introspective and poetic.


My daughter was born in 2001. I balanced work and family by working summers in the Northfork of Long Island, while maintaining a small studio in Manhattan. Since 2000, I have created bodies of work including DriftLetters to the Earth, MaterialOregon Road and Entanglements. I am currently expanding Stratus Lift and Levels as well as experimenting with digitally enlarging the Nat Geo collages. I continue to work in series, setting up a general set of constraints or concepts so I can freely and intuitively produce paintings. My process involves creating many linear overlay drawings sourced from photographs of landscapes, cityscapes, and disaster sites — I'm finding ways to merge these parts, looking for ways to connect everything by building up or erasing areas. My work has always had a focus on nature, and abstraction offers an expansive mode through which to visualize the world we live in. With the rise of technology, abstract reasoning is second nature to all of us. Inherent structures have become more abstract and complex, and I wonder how viewing art might further activate our intellect to understand our contemporary circumstances.


Carrie Johnson was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and grew up in the Chicago suburbs. She received a B.A. in Fine Arts from Indiana University in 1979. She was an intern in the Publications department at the Walker Art Center before embarking upon graduate studies in the Yale University MFA program. She graduated with a Design degree in 1982, the same year she received a Ford Foundation Grant and moved to New York City. She worked as an instructor at Rutgers University, teaching design and publications in Newark, New Jersey. She has worked on design projects at Degrippes Gobe, Arnell Group, as well as many freelance projects. She has designed magazines, store interiors, and exhibition graphics along with advertising and branding campaigns. Since 1982, she has also continued to produce paintings and collages. In 2001, Johnson participated in Selections Fall 2001: 12 Views at The Drawing Center in New York. She became a member of A.I.R. Gallery in 2016, and was featured in the Summer Group Exhibition at Anita Rogers Gallery in 2017. A limited-edition collage collection, Make the World Run More Smoothly, was published in December 2018 on the occasion of NADA, Miami Beach, Florida, at the A.I.R. Gallery booth. Her work is included in numerous private collections and she is based in New York City.