Rashid Johnson (SAIC 2003–04) draws upon materials and visual sources to explore how cultural experiences shape African Americans.
Chicago-born, New York–based artist Rashid Johnson (SAIC 2003–04) has been following his instinct since his days as an undergraduate student. As a junior at Columbia College of Chicago, Johnson took his portfolio to Schneider Gallery for consideration for the exhibit New Artists, Old Processes—a show he didn’t participate in because he was instead offered a solo show at the gallery. The following week at his solo show, some of his pieces were purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Johnson, who attended SAIC from 2003 to 2004, works in a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, and more recently, performance—debuting his piece Dutchman in 2014. Dutchman was nominated in the “best time-based format” category by the United Section of the International Association of Art Critics.
In 2012 Johnson received the David C. Driskell Prize established by the High Museum of Art, the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. That same year, Johnson was named as one of the six finalists for the 2012 Hugo Boss Prize and held the major solo exhibition A Message to Our Folks at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
Johnson‘s work is most often categorized as post-black art as he draws upon materials and visual sources with strong ties to the African Diaspora and examines how these cultural experiences shape African Americans. In a 2012 interview with Art in America, Johnson says, “The materials I've used over the last five to 10 years were things that were close to me, that reminded me of certain aspects of my experience growing up—for example, the relationship I had to Afrocentrism through my parents in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.”