Kristina Johnson

b. 1991
Kristina Johnson (KJ) is an artist and curator from Minnesota. She graduated with a BFA in Studio Fine Art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (‘17) with an emphasis in Drawing and Painting.  After years of working closely with her mentor, Jehra Patrick, KJ took over as director of arts platform, Waiting Room. She has curated exhibitions that explore critical questions about the relationship of art to abstraction, the environment, social concerns, political issues and theories of identity, individuation, and subjectivation. In 2020, KJ’s curatorial work was featured in Artforum’s Critics’ Picks; as well as personally featured in local Twin Cities publications such as City Pages, MNDaily, and Star Tribune.

Today, Kristina works out of her home in Minneapolis helping to support emerging and mid-career artists gain wider recognition for their work. She is also a frequent volunteer with The People’s Library.

My artwork originated as a mechanism to cope with my mother’s chronic progressive disease (Multiple Sclerosis). I obsessively created with her image embedded as the subject; questioning how one could portray the human condition. The hours spent documenting her gestures shaped my practice into an intimate narrative alluding to an inextricably dark yet humorous past, transfixed by the use of objects, images, and symbols from a living archive.

On my father’s side, I am the great granddaughter of Edward G. Bremer, a St. Paul banker that was kidnapped by the Barker-Karpis gang in 1934.  On my mother’s side, I’m the granddaughter of two immigrants. My grandfather from Norway and my grandmother from Egypt. All of my relatives have made an immense effort to preserve and bestow their possessions onto future generations. Using these items to create artwork offers priceless and artful means to archiving one’s inheritance. 

I scour personal and public catalogues for symbols and images to dissect and rebuild as compositional narratives. At first glance my work feels whimsical and absurd, but at its heart is deeply self-reflective. Each piece functions as a glimpse into my stream of consciousness; a tangential view of an inner life bound by the meaning of memory, language, and relationships.