Rashid Johnson

Rashid Johnson
Rashid Johnson
  • Born:
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Artist









Rashid Johnson is an American artist who produces conceptual post-black art. Johnson first received critical attention when examples of his work were included in the exhibition "Freestyle," curated by Thelma Golden at the Studio Museum in Harlem in 2001—when he was 24. He has studied at Columbia College Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His work has been exhibited around the world and he is held in collections of many of the world's leading art museums.

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As an artist, I've always felt most comfortable outside of the art supply store. So domestic materials are the ones that most help inform what I'm trying to talk about and our familiarity as a whole - kind of the collective us, I guess. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
As an undergrad at Columbia College in Chicago, I came across 'Boondocks,' and then I watched the 'Boondocks' television show.
Dealing with actors is incredibly complex because they oftentimes are like pieces of clay. They want to be told how you want it done. You have to then decide if you want to be the teller or if you want to give them agency.
For me, all the materials and objects I employ come from a specific space that's very personal.
Growing up in Chicago, there was a very particular type of home that would display the black Jesus figure. It wasn't a radical home. You wouldn't find these in a Black Panther house. There's still a strong allegiance to Christianity.
I attempted to do yoga in German, and it was not particularly successful. So at that time, I started thinking about the idea of just movement and how I could move to de-stress. Time
I can bring in all these different components, and I marry these components, and I let them get traversed by the viewer, who reorganizes them.
I don't have any other skills. Some artists say that to mean that their embodied passion for art gave them no choice. I say it, very specifically, to say that I really didn't have any other options. Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I have an investment in the signifying aspects of the material as well as an understanding of antecedent bodies of work. That informs the way I make marks and make decisions. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I say that I suffer from what Rosalind Krauss was calling the post-medium condition, where an artist essentially employs several mediums in order to bring to life whatever specific ideas that they have. For me it's always been that way. Life
I started rereading 'The Dutchman' - I kind of just pulled it off the shelf.
I wanted my art to deal with very formal concerns and to deal with very material concerns, and to deal with antecedents and art history, which for me go very far beyond just the influence of African-American artists. History ;Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
I was born in Evanston, about three blocks away from the Chicago border. My mother, at the time, was finishing her Ph.D. in African History at Northwestern University. Soon after my birth, my parents split, and my father moved to Wicker Park, which is on the north side of the city. Time ;History
I was going through a divorce, and I had a lot of reading I was doing, and I developed what was probably a serious anxiety problem - because I was about as poor as you can get, in graduate school, and trying to make my work and keep my head above water. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I'd begun to collect things that were lying in piles on the floor of my studio. I had run out of space, and I started to build shelves. I turned around one day and realized that that was the vehicle for carrying so many of the things that I was looking at and talking about, so they went from the walls to the works.
I've always been interested in this idea of a privileged life, probably because it's something I hadn't seen much of. Life
I've always had an interest in complicating the way that we perceive the black character, whether it's the black academic or scholar or activist or black intellectual.
I've been interested in LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka's work for quite a while. My first introduction to LeRoi Jones was when my mother used to read me the 'Dead Lecturer' poems when I was a kid. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
My composition often goes toward the black middle class or the black super-wealthy or strong historical black figures.
My father had a big brick cell phone, before anyone had a cell phone, because he was really just into that kind of thing - communication devices. I grew up between my father's laboratory and my mother's library.
My father owned a small company, called Gundel Electronics, where he did community band radio and some repair stuff.
My father ran a CB radio business. I grew up in a cluttered space that was filled with radios and antennas. It felt alien. Business, Commerce & Finance
My mother introduced me to more academic-minded writers, Cornel West and Skip Gates. In her library, I came across, when I was very young, Harold Cruse's 'The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual,' which is like a bible of Negro intellectuals from Frederick Douglass to Amiri Baraka.
Oh, yeah, I'm all about ritual.
Race, class, childhood experience, the books I found on my mother's bookshelf, the albums I found in my father's basement - these things are all part of who I am and will always be a part of my work. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
'The New Black Yoga' originally was born from a film that I had made prior called 'Black Yoga.' And I was living in Berlin at the time, dealing with a lot of anxiety and stress around the project that I was working on, which is not an abnormal thing for me. Time
The thing that turned out to be interesting about CB radios was the ability to call out in the world with anonymity. You choose your handle. Race and class become non-signifiers.
The way that light hits objects in life, three-dimensional objects before you photograph them, is really the story of photography. Life
The way that light hits objects, I think, is one of the more important things that sculpture and photography share.
The whole ability to look at the complexity of race and any sort of associated -ism and still find humor, that's a very interesting space. Humor
What I really hoped to do with my work was to at least be able to define my relationship to race. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
When I was young, I remember feeling a real thirst for opportunities around the arts, for learning about how artists function and how institutions work. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
When I was younger, I remember there was a really famous book, and it was called 'The People Could Fly.' And so this idea of, kind of like, black characters kind of jumping into space and kind of the challenge that they presented to gravity I thought was really interesting. Fame
When I was younger, I would see shea butter being sold on the street, and I was interested how people were still coating themselves in the theater of Africanism. You see that in dashikis and hairstyles and music. Music, Chants & Rapps
You can really learn a lot from young people and the way they view the world.

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