Heather Johnson

Degrees of Separation
Sat Nov 18, 2006 - Sat Dec 23, 2006

In a culture preoccupied with speed, Johnson’s artwork asks us to slow down and notice the details. Using a variety of media degrees of separation draws attention to those things that are always present, but are often overlooked. Johnson grew up as a modern day nomad, moving from place to place and from culture to culture. Her artwork draws from this history investigating temporality and the too familiar experience of passing through a space without making a connection to it. Her site-specific installations explore the possibility that memories accumulate in places, and invite the viewer to look more closely to discover the stories told by their surroundings. The beauty is in the details.


Johnson sees degrees of separation as an interactive experience. During the exhibition viewers are encouraged to add to installations. Those interested are asked to bring to the gallery old maps that they don’t mind destroying. Participants can also email Women & Their Work with overheard conversations that will be turned into transferable text and put out in the gallery for gallery goers to add to Johnson’s installation.


Artist Statement

I grew up moving from place to place, a process punctuated by dramatic cultural transitions: Hawaii to suburban Chicago; Rio Grande du Sol, Brazil to Heber City, Utah; Woking, Surrey, England to Houston, Texas.  This process has inspired my long-term investigation of rootlessness, of the experience of moving through space without connecting to it.  Consequently, my work examines spaces from the perspective of an outsider looking in, wherein the viewer is positioned to gaze intimately at things that are temporary, generally ignored, or distorted by memory.

Employing a range of media, my work reenacts the process of searching, of hunting for evidence of the past in order to build connections to the present.  Site-specific installations map out seemingly empty spaces, guiding viewers’ gazes toward ignored stories evidenced in cracks, holes and piles of dust.  I use repetitive or labor-intensive processes to render fleeting, fragmented images of things often taken for granted.  Each piece locates the personal within a context of lack, taking viewers from one place to another, without necessarily taking them anywhere.  It is my hope that the work inspires questions about where we are, physically and psychologically, in relation to what surrounds us.