220 E. Chicago Ave
In conjunction with the exhibition Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks, artist Rashid Johnson discusses his work. Johnson’s mixed-media practice incorporates a wide-range of everyday materials and objects, including wax, wood, steel, brass, shea butter, ceramic tile, books, records, VHS tapes, live plants, and CB radios. With shamanistic inspiration from both African-American and art history, many of Johnson’s more recent works employ these materials in a way that suggests an indefinite form of mysticism and a role as devotional objects.
Born in Chicago in 1977, Johnson received his B.A. in photography from Columbia College in Chicago and in 2005 was awarded his M.F.A. by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2001, Johnson’s work was included in Freestyle, an exhibition at the Studio Museum in Harlem curated by Thelma Golden. The show featured 28 up-and-coming artists whose work Golden considered to be “post-black,” a term defined by Golden as “characterized by artists who were adamant about not being labeled as ‘black’ artists, though their work was steeped, in fact deeply interested, in redefining complex notions of blackness.” Johnson, 24 at the time and the youngest artist in the exhibition, presented photographs from his “Seeing in the Dark” series of portraits of homeless African-American men in Chicago. The work drew critical attention, and since then, his practice has become central to the post-black movement.
Johnson’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center, and the 54th Venice Biennale “ILLUMInations,” amongst others. In 2009, he had a solo show at Sculpture Center in New York. In fall 2012, the South London Gallery presents Johnson’s first solo show in the U.K. Message to Our Folks at the MCA is his first major solo museum exhibition.