Iskra Johnson, like most of us, navigates the territory between the natural and the modern world. She has a successful business providing custom letterform solutions and logotypes for packaging materials for companies looking to personalize their branding aesthetic. That Gardenburger logo? She created it. The Seattle Times brandmark? It’s in her portfolio. She utilizes many channels of modern technology (as one must be to survive in the current communications arena) working with design software, digital cameras and a smart phone as well as her website, blog and Facebook pages, all duly updated to maintain relevance with today’s desire for immediacy and attainability.
While maintaining her life as a savvy business owner, Johnson works with equal diligence in her fine art career. And perhaps by proximity to (her studio is in the middle of a garden) the seasonal changing of flora and fauna, she is greatly inspired by her natural surroundings.
Images of flowers, leaves, water and wildlife are featured in her work and layered with atmospheric shadows and textures. Each composition is carefully crafted, integrating digital photographic elements with older analog prints, powdered pigment and paint. Employing a unique transfer process, each print is handmade and sensitive to timing, humidity and pressure. It takes a great deal of repetition and attention to detail to produce one successful print. To some this could be considered time consuming and exhaustive, but to Johnson it is a process that allows for pause, contemplation and absorption.
“For me contemplation of nature is a blessed, necessary antidote to the political life. It’s reflective and absorbing. There is no ‘issue,’ nothing to prove, and nothing to be right about. But it’s not a passive state. Embedded in contemplation is the search for transformative metaphor. One of my favorite plants in the garden is the hydrangea…as it changes through the seasons; it is beautiful at every stage. It makes me regard the cycles of my own life from a bigger impersonal perspective and it helps me find harmony with the processes of change. There are times when I think the state of peace that comes from nature is denial, but more often I think it is the basis of everything good-it’s what holds up the world and makes it possible to live.”
Come see new work by Iskra Johnson as well as artists Tyler Boley, Nichole DeMent, Eva Isaksen, Christopher Perry, Aithan Shapira, Nina Tichava and Allyce Wood in the upcoming exhibition, Contemplating Nature, open May 10 – June 9.
Meet the artists May 10, 5 – 7 pm, for the opening reception at SAM Gallery, 1220 3rd Avenue (at University), downtown Seattle.
-Alyssa Rhodes, SAM Gallery Coordinator