• Native Chicagoan Ervin A. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, and earned his MFA...

    Native Chicagoan Ervin A. Johnson is a graduate of the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign, and earned his MFA in photography at Savannah College of Art and Design. Johnson utilizes photo-based mixed media to reimagine his cultural and racial identity. He completed a residency at Columbia College and the Center of Photography at Woodstock, and is a 2016 and 2020 Critical Mass Finalist. His work was featured in an exhibition in Detroit’s Wright Museum and was on view in the European Cultural Centre's exhibition Personal Structures during the Venice Biennale 2019. Johnson's work is held in public and private collections.

  • Variations On A Theme is a nod to the technical influence of jazz within the series, but also how that...

    Variations On A Theme is a nod to the technical influence of jazz within the series, but also how that genre reflects the life experiences of Black people. Our experiences as Americans are nuanced, riddled with complexity. Racism functions, in the same way, adapting to the times and hiding behind pillars of privilege. The Black spirit shifts too, renegotiating trauma into beauty and triumph; a call and response. #InHonor exists as a visual reminder of the power of that transformation, and the inherent tenacity of the Black spirit. Guided by variations the work explores trauma in a very tangible way via the transformation of the portrait. Paint is introduced to the photographic material in a metaphoric way as a stand-in for physical and mental abuse done to Black bodies. Removing pigment and adding back from the photo on the first layer, in a not so accurate way becomes a commentary on the mishandling of the black body.

    • VARIATION 28, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      VARIATION 282020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • VARIATION 30, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      VARIATION 302020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • VARIATION 33, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 30 x 24 inches
      VARIATION 332020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      30 x 24 inches
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  • "I began #InHonor as a personal response to the killings of Black people across America. To be completely honest the work was born out of guilt. All of my friends had rallied up in arms to march for Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner. I, on the other hand, was nowhere to be found. I felt guilty. I consider myself, for the most part, a conscious individual and so my silence became a burden. When the time came for me to be vocal with my peers I chose the path of cowardice. What real change would come of my presence as a young gay black man at a march in which half of my people don’t accept or acknowledge me? Still though I felt moved to do something. Whether or not I was accepted was something I had and will always deal with, I had to come to terms with that before anything else."

    -Ervin A. Johnson

  • "The work continues today and will continue as long as lives are lost from racism and police brutality."

     

     

  • Warning: Explicit lyrics. This video may not be suitable for some. 

  • Available For Purchase: Variations On A Theme

    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 1, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 30 x 24 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 1, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      30 x 24 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 2, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 30 x 24 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 2, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      30 x 24 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 3, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 30 x 24 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 3, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      30 x 24 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 4, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 30 x 24 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 4, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      30 x 24 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 5, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 30 x 24 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 5, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      30 x 24 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 6, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 6, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 7, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 7, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 8, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 8, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 9, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 9, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 10, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 10, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 11, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 11, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 12, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 12, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 13, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 13, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 14, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 14, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 15, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 20 x 16 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 15, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      20 x 16 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 19, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 19, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 20, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 20, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 21, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 21, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 22, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 22, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 23, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 23, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 24, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 24, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 25, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 60x 48 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 25, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      60x 48 inches
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    • ERVIN A. JOHNSON Variation 26, 2020 Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton 10 x 8 inches
      ERVIN A. JOHNSON
      Variation 26, 2020
      Photographic Mixed Media on Cotton
      10 x 8 inches
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