Last weekend I had the delight of meeting with Elena Johnston, an artist based in my home city of Baltimore. Upon meeting her, I was instantly excited by not only her work and work space, but beautiful, light-filled apartment (and her cat). Her home is nestled in a neighborhood with some beautiful old houses, like this one:
A couple of weeks prior, I sent Elena the first half of a collaborative piece, with the intention of a real-life Art Together project. Unfortunately, I forgot to document my half, but here is what she came up with:
My half mostly consisted of the background colors with a few shapes. Elena explained that my shapes gave her the inspiration to try and mimic what I had done (in her own way of course). She also added that the background colors reminded her of the Fall season, which influenced some of the imagery used as well.
During my visit, the topic of seasons, memories, and play came up in conversation. Elena has been using collage in her work for about two years, using old magazines such as National Geographic to drum up imagery. Sometimes, she simply cuts out textures, other times it is elements from the spreads themselves. I love Elena’s most recent paintings, which are a combination of both collage and painting with acrylic ink. They are bright and lively, with a feeling of ease about them.
Elena told me the color of her walls are the same color she had in her room growing up.
The base of this piece was made by rubbing a rough paper (out of an old paper-sample booklet) onto the paper used in painting.
A couple of pieces that Elena has completed recently. A zine and the album cover for Adventure.
We discussed how the act of experimentation and play is important in any artistic practice. Near the end of our time spent together, she showed me collages that she had created with others. Their process is simple as flipping through old magazines and cutting out shapes and patterns. But, as we both agreed, the new ideas that can be discovered from these exercises is priceless.
Elena is currently working on a new body of work that she hopes to show this summer. She is also work on a music project, BAMBOO, with Jordan Bernier (previously featured on Brown Paper Bag!)