Mary Ellen Johnson
MARY ELLEN JOHNSON
Born: October 6, 1967; West Long Branch, NJ
Resides: Hartsville, SC
Education: 1988-89 Ringling School of Art and Design, Sarasota, FL
2011 Visual Artist of Year, Black Creek Art Council
1993 Best of Show, Juried Exhibition Kalmia Arts Festival, Kalmia Arts Council, Kalmia Gardens, Hartsville, SC
"I'm an Oil painter living in the the Pee Dee region of South Carolina - Darlington County - Hartsville
“My work explores the deep connection that food has with humanity. I find the subtle and yet not so subtle power it possesses fascinating, The main focus of my work is to capture this deep connection. My paintings delve into the complicated and curious relationship that we have developed with food throughout our existence. Food has a direct link to our survival and has bound its roots deep within our cultures, societies, and families. It’s everywhere we go and it has worked itself into a pinnacle part of our everyday lives. It's like a language really because we charge it with so many connotations and meanings. The smell can take you back to a time long ago, the sound of things like bacon frying in a pan can perk you up in the morning, and the sight alone can make your mouth start salivating. Food has great power over us and I'm interested in showing this power in my work. I want the viewer to be confronted by these lofty monstrosities of food and ponder their own relationship with the food that they eat.
I have been asked recently why do I so often paint food. I say the food paintings evolved from painting small one day paintings, which I started to hone my skills. I just painted something everyday, which led to food. They were a very fresh subject, and the shapes, colors, and textures, were exciting to me. People started telling me that the paintings would make them hungry and that they craved the food. I found it interesting how the brain triggers hunger and I like the associations food is charged with: nostalgia, comfort, traditions etc. as well as imagery that is mundane and elevating it to art. I believe the manner and style of the work is driven by the imagery and the way my process evolved."