Rochelle Johnson grabs inspiration from urban neighborhoods. Specializing in oils, she brings vibrancy and life to every - day scenes.
I grew up in Park Hill, one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the city of Denver. Throughout my life, I have been a constant observer of the interactions between different sorts of people. Watching the ways that people react and relate to one another, both good and bad, has long been a curiosity of mine and that has inspired my current painting series, documenting the life and spirit of urban people.
My neighborhood is currently undergoing a process of gentrification. Gentrification has now become a national thing. Neighborhoods that once were the keepers of the culture are experiencing a takeover, radically shifting from one culture to another and along with socioeconomic displacement the inner city looks more mixed than ever before. My paintings depict day-to-day life in the city, while exploring how each person’s identity influences how they see the humanity and value of people outside their group. As a black woman artist, the black narrative has been the focus of my paintings, but I can’t overlook new cultural interactions at play in the community around me. The gentrification in my neighborhood has forced me to confront its negative effects, such as the displacement of whole communities of long-time residents. Will urban life now be considered a luxury for elites only, or can the city become an intersection where diverse groups learn to come together, and can thrive together? As I observe these interactions, I capture what is important to me: unity.
My paintings largely reflect what I see in my community on a positive level. I feel too much negativity gets out into the world. I focus on portraits placed in an environment where people are doing what comes naturally to them. I capture the energy and emotion of my subject matter. I believe if I paint an interaction of unusual encounters people will become familiar with those interactions and possibly change the norm-much like the lone black figure in classical paintings that people tend to overlook. My painting focus on a narrative that is interactive in a way that single outs the sitter and draws curiosity.
The question is can we live together.
Rochelle D. Johnson
1964 Born, Denver, Colorado. Currently resides in Denver, Colorado
1992 B.A., Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design, Denver, Colorado
2007-2011 Art Students League of Denver, Denver, Colorado
Studied with Ron Hicks, Andrea T. Kemp, and Jordan Wolfson
2018 The Search Within: Daughters of the Diaspora, The Art Center, Group Exhibition, Grand Junction, Colorado, Curated by Rochelle Johnson
2017 Inclusion: Diverse Voices of the Modern West, McNichols Civic Center Building, Group Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, Curated by Rochelle Johnson
2014 African-American Contemporary Artists, Curtis Arts & Humanities Center, Group Exhibition, Greenwood Village, Colorado
2013 Summer Exhibit, White Stone Gallery Group Exhibition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2012 The Culture of African American Art, Republic Plaza Building Group Exhibition, Denver, Colorado, Curated by Andra Archer
2011 Emergence: Contemporary Artist to Watch, Galerie Myrtis Fine Art Gallery, Group Exhibition, Baltimore, Maryland
2010 A Woman’s Work, Avisca Fine Art Gallery Group Exhibition of 20 women visual artist, Marietta, Georgia
2009 Black Artists Speak, the Arts Students League of Denver Group Exhibition presented by Sankofa Arts Alliance, Denver, Colorado, With Guest Faculty Artist Ron Hicks and Michael Gadlin Curator Rochelle Johnson
2008 Family, CORE New Art Space, Group Exhibition presented by Sankofa Arts Alliance in the Santa Fe Artsdistrict, Denver, Colorado Sankofa! Sankofa! Looking Back-Moving Forward, Lakewood Cultural Center, Group Exhibition (November through February) Lakewood, Colorado
2007 Sankofa Celebrates Black History Month, The Other Sides Arts (TOSA), the Aurora Arts District, Aurora, Colorado
2006 Finding Common Ground,CHAC Gallery and Collaborative exhibit with Sankofa Arts Collective, Sankofa Back Do’ Studio And The Chicano Humanities Arts Council at the, Denver, Colorado, Santa Fe Artsdistrict and Five Points cultural district
The Soul of Colorado Exhibition Denver International Collective exhibition at the Denver International Airport (February through April), Denver, Colorado
American Art Collector, The Art Lover’s Guide to Collecting Fine Art in Colorado, March 2019
American Art Collector, Personal Connections the Figure in Art, December, 2014
American Art Collector, Enduring Interpretations Collecting Portraits, August, 2013
Ekakshara, selected image, 2009 The African American Voice, Artist’s Profile, May, 2007
The Urban Spectrum, By Her Hand, March, 2005
When a Sistah’s Fed Up, cover illustration, 2005