Allison Dawn Johnson is a practicing artist and visual arts teacher. She lives and works in Vancouver, Canada on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh people. As a graduate of Emily Carr and Simon Fraser University, she predominantly works in acrylic and oil painting, collage, sculpture and mixedmedia materials. She has written and illustrated children’s books, teaches and curates community art events that encourage inclusive connections through a creative form.
Allison Johnson’s work plays between figurative and expressionism, referencing the Pacific Northwest landscapes, that she calls home. Her inspirations are deeply embedded within natural surroundings and nostalgic terrains that explore intuition, embodiment and psychological aspects of human existence. She paints slowly, gently and welcomes the messy, illogical disorder of life in this process. It is here where dreams and the subconscious influence her work. Her paintings are capsules of personal narratives with an expressive, dreamlike quality. In her practice, there is an endless fascination of what lies under the surface.
Where are you from? Did you grow up in a creative environment?
I was born in Saskatoon and raised in Vancouver* Canada, where I currently live, work and create, as a visual arts teacher and artist. *(traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh nations)
My first exposure to painting came from my grandfather, who was more of a traditional painter. I would always sneak around and check out his studio; his colors, layering, and style influenced me heavily as a kid. The other influential place that allowed me to explore creativity was my high school art class. I struggled with most other subjects, so the art classroom became a sanctuary for me to explore my teenage mind, color, textures and most forms of expression. The first painting I made was in my pre-teen years, after finding my grandfather’s oil paint set. This painting was purchased by my art teacher. This experience, and others like it, have shown me that encouragement at a young age can span a lifetime to develop the courage to contribute and connect interpersonally.
Who or what has compelled and/or encouraged you to create your art?
The process of creating and expressing what is alive in me is what continues to bring me back to the studio. My studio has always been a place where I battle my subconscious. It’s a place that gives me permission to make mistakes and to dive deeper than anywhere else. Making art has always been about collecting and dissecting my choices and strengthening my intuition. I use this space to search for the transformative possibilities of images and to express a deeper self-reflection of myself, others, and the world around me.
What is the key topic or issue that your work addresses? What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Most of my current work is figurative and references the Pacific Northwest and its landscapes. I find inspiration within PNW’s natural surroundings and all its nostalgic terrains. Along with these sceneries, I tend to weave into my work different psychological concepts and experiences. I am one to welcome the messy, illogical, and disordered side of life into my practice, as I find this is where my dreams and the subconscious collide to influence my work.
If you weren’t creating art, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t making art, I would probably have a cat cuddling sanctuary or be a thrift store hustler.