Mindset (sweetgrass), 29 × 24 inches, 2019 (archival digital print, edition of 10). Courtesy the artist and Accola Greifen Fine Art.


Talk: Liberated Bodies: Peripheral Vision and Proprioception with Merritt Johnson

Friday, March 26, 10am PST
Presented on Zoom.
This event will feature ASL interpretation.

In connection to her exhibition Love Song, Merritt Johnson will discuss her work, which is rooted in our ability to see what is not directly centered in our field of vision. She will explore the capacity to sense and understand what our bodies come in contact with, and how we are positioned to move without the use of sight. By using these other sensory means, Johnson will investigate how we can conceptualize, advocate, and create social, political and environmental liberation.

This talk is co-presented by the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory at the University of British Columbia.

Merritt Johnson’s work is a navigation of peripheries, intersectionality, separation and connection.  Her multidisciplinary works are containers for thought and feeling. For two decades Johnson has used her work to contribute to ending the oppression of bodies, land, sex, and culture. Her practice is a synthesis of necessity, as well as a refusal of binaries, fractions of division, and control. She embraces peripheral overlap and the impossibility of disentanglement. Johnson is a pan-sexual cis-gender woman of mixed descent, she is not claimed by, nor a citizen of any nation from which she descends. Johnson is the mother and stepmother of six children. She holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) and an MFA from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (Boston). Her work is represented by Accola Griefen Fine Art in New York. She lives and works with her family on Lingít Aani, her partner’s home territory, in Sitka, Alaska. (Last updated March 15, 2021.)

[Image description: A dark-haired, light-skinned baby of mixed Indigenous heritage wearing blue jeans and a white, long-sleeved t-shirt sits up on a white floor, in front of a plain white wall. The baby wears a VR headset woven from sweetgrass with sweetgrass braids securing it over the baby’s head. The baby tilts their head slightly down, as if focusing into the VR world, and rests one hand on the headset. With the other hand, they hold up a small, partly burnt sweetgrass braid. Scattered on the ground near the baby’s outstretched legs and bare feet are small bits of sweetgrass fibre, some slightly darkened.]

SFU Galleries is generously supported by Simon Fraser University, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council, along with numerous foundations, community partners, donors, and volunteers. We are especially grateful for the visionary support of the Marianne and Edward Gibson Trust.