Merritt Johnson’s work is a navigation of periphery, intersectionality, separation and connection. Her multidisciplinary works are containers for thought and feeling. For two decades Johnson has focused her work toward destroying the oppression of bodies, land, sex, and culture. Her practice is a synthesis of necessity, refusing binaries, refusing fractions of division and control; she embraces peripheral overlap and the impossibility of disentanglement. Johnson is pan-sexual cis-gender woman of mixed descent, she is not claimed by, nor a citizen of any nation from which she descends.
The multiplicity of materials and processes Johnson employs embody her insistence that a multiplicity of tools (and bodies to wield them) are needed to destroy oppressive systems and survive them. She creates tools for critical thought and action: seed baskets woven in the shapes of hand-grenades and a portable oxygen tank, wearable bolts cutters, a tin can telephone to listen to land, a basket to translate a heartbeat to a love song, paintings mapping invisibility, and instructional videos to exorcise America from bodies, land and water.
Johnson is the mother and stepmother of 6 children, and 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.