Nikisha Johnson, an Appleton painter, credits her early inspiration from watching her mother paint and take photographs. “I was always amazed watching her create something really beautiful and unique from the tools she used, whether it was a camera or print screen or a paintbrush, she always had a very intuitive sense in how to use those tools to create her vision,” Johnson says.
Beginning as a classically trained musician, Johnson explored a variety of art forms such as building furniture, knitting, crocheting and tatting, until she fell in love with painting.
“I felt compelled to return to [painting] over and over again. The process of creating art is what continues to push me forward,” she says.
Johnson is originally from Milwaukee, possessing a degree in human resources management, and an educational background in leadership and organizational studies. She is entirely self-taught as an artist, having been painting for about three years.
“As I progress in painting, I begin to feel a little more comfortable with the process as I incorporate the things I’ve learned from previous painting, which allows me to be able to experiment with doing new things in future paintings. The possibilities and the ability for me to create seem endless and I find that very intriguing.”
Currently, Johnson works primarily with acrylic paint and canvas, occasionally utilizing wood panels or a resin finish. Her inspiration stems from the current social climate, so Johnson chooses to use her art to speak out about racism and social injustices.
“I have had times where things were very challenging for me being a Black person in a predominantly white community. Growing up and still to this day, I experience racism at the very least on a weekly basis if not daily,” Johnson says.
Johnson says art is another way to shed light on the current conditions of society and credits it with creating a connection and mutual understanding with viewers.
“I want others to be able to see and learn about history and civil rights and maybe spark conversations,” she says. “I want to be able to use art to put out and promote peace, unity and understanding among our society instead of this divide we seem to be experiencing.”
Johnson’s work will be on display in The Trout Museum of Art’s atrium through October 31 as part of the museum’s “Art is Her” exhibition. See more of Johnson’s work on Instagram @Nikkijohnson_art.