Your Dream is You Contest

Recently I participated in the “Your Dream is You” contest, an exhibition to be held in Istanbul, Turkey. It was planned for this year but now will be held once the pandemic allows. I was surprised and so honored to have two (!) images selected for the exhibition: “fatigue” and “agency.” A slideshow of the winning images are on Facebook. A heartfelt thank you to the judges.

covid, sickness, pandemic
fatigue
covid 19, pandemic, art
agency

Creating Images During the Pandemic

Early in March 2019 my doctor asked me to start working from home because I have a problem in my immune system that puts me at risk for serious complications from Covid-19. The pandemic hadn’t yet hit the Charlotte/Lake Norman area very hard yet, but she knew it was coming soon and wanted me to take two weeks off “to let the virus pass through.” Then I could go back to work. Needless to say, this has been the longest two weeks either of us have experienced. The governor shut the state down two weeks later and I had already gotten ill with what we believed to be Covid-19 (this was before tests were readily or easily available in our area). During the time I was ill, I had more time to create art than usual (although, honestly, I slept most of the time).

The pandemic was in the forefront of my mind when I created the first two pieces while ill. Image number one had come after seeing so many images of grieving and death. It was a very a dark time–and one increasingly full of despair. I didn’t want to make a piece of art that only represented the grimness of the new reality. There was darkness. But there was also love.

And hope.

pandemic image
wounded spectre

The second image is “the weight of hearts,” which was the one chosen for “Windows of Hope” in Charlotte and for the 2020 Mira Mobile Prize exhibition in Porto, Portugal. Some of the same thought process went into its creation, with the exception that I wanted to emphasize the dimension of hope even more. The piece represents an intersection of earthly and spiritual planes. A transcendence in life and death–but the heaviness of love, and the loss of so many, is still very real.

pandemic art
the weight of hearts

I did do a type of variant of the above themes later in the year. I began by playing with the idea of one’s relationship with one’s sel(ves). At the same time the pandemic as well as the images I had made earlier helped to shape this new piece. For me art is multivalent in its creation.

pandemic art, multiselves
revenant (lost self)

The other works I created early to mid 2020 didn’t have to do with the pandemic directly, but I found that I had become more playful. Hearts became a symbol of the weight of human emotion while also maintaining an element of hope.

  • longing, love
  • love, loss, play
  • longing, love
  • choice, chance, love
  • love, Radiohead

The works I did towards the end of the year had Covid as a constant backdrop in their creation, but only two referenced it more directly.

The first was “agency,” which didn’t start as an image having anything to do with the pandemic. It started with thinking about the (seeming) duality of the self. It continued that theme as it formed but I intuitively found myself adding a red mask and gloves. The context in part was the (sometimes violent) debate about mask-wearing in the US.

covid 19, pandemic, art
agency

One image I did near the end of the year is a self-portrait. Its title is “fatigue.” I had the virus earlier in the year, but its effects lingered well into December. I would have flare ups with crushing fatigue and leg pain. For several months I found myself out of breath and needing nebulizer treatments if I overworked (knowing where that line lay was a constant experiment). The piece doesn’t just talk about physical fatigue but also psychical fatigue. Lack of physical contact with family and friends as well as the constant barrage of negative and depressing political and socioeconomic news was itself like an enervating virus.

covid, sickness, pandemic
fatigue

In July, Joanne Carter of The App Whisperer asked to interview me on the topic of “Hope in Adversity” as part of a series of interviews with mobile artists about isolation and art during the pandemic. I’ve had more time to reflect on my art since then, but the thing in the interview that still stands out to me is the appreciation of the online mobile community. Despite all the negative things about social media (and there are many), the deepening of my involvement with the community of mobile artists on Facebook and Instagram helped keep me afloat and moving forward creatively and even spiritually in 2020. It will definitely also be part of my post-Covid world as well. .

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I created a few pieces (initially posted on Instagram) with this All Hallows’ Eve in mind. As I created the second one, “Run Away! Run Away!,” it brought me back to a repetitive nightmare I used to have as a child. In that dream, I was chased through the woods by something or someone I couldn’t see, but feel. They kept chasing until the dream abruptly ended as I crossed the boundary between the woods and our front yard. I’d not thought about that dream in some time.

May your Halloween is spooky and fun!

first-haunting-flickr-med

First Haunting

Run Away! Run Away!

Run Away! Run Away!

The Clearing

The Clearing

 

Ghost and Shadows: “the being of time” and “nite lite”

This past week’s additions to the “Ghost and Shadows” series.

ghosts and shadows xvii: the being of time

ghosts and shadows xvii: the being of time

ghost and shadows xvi: nite lite

ghost and shadows xvi: nite lite

Ghosts and Shadows series: “summers gone” and “hide and seek”

Recent additions to the “Ghosts and Shadows” mobile series…

ghosts and shadows xiv: summers gone

ghosts and shadows xiv: summers gone

ghosts and shadows xv: hide and seek

ghosts and shadows xv: hide and seek

Collaboration with poets JK Anowe and Laura M Kaminski

scavenger l from flickr

scavenger

I’m delighted that “Scavenger,” from the Eternal Childhood series, is part of this collaborative submission with poets JK Anowe and Laura M Kaminski at Poetry Life and Times. If you get a chance, take some time and read their poignant words.

A Followup Interview at Ennyman’s Territory

Melissa D Johnston-expansion-Story-OTPHIn 2010, Ed Newman interviewed me for his blog Ennyman’s Territory. I was just beginning to find my legs creatively and his interest was a huge encouragement for me. A few weeks ago he contacted me again to do a followup interview. the door for portfolio 2015It was perfect timing. It made me think once again about why I do what I do and how I do it. It even helped me think more deeply about my current show “Story” and sparked the idea of turning the receptions into a weaving of autobiography, fairy tales, and images. So, thank you once again, Ed! The new interview, which came out today, is also at Ennyman’s Territory: “Artist Melissa D Johnston Revisited.”

October Fine Art America Contest Wins and My First Solo Show!

I had two third place contest wins at Fine Art America in October!

Melissa D Johnston-To Touch the Moon blog post

“To Touch the Moon” won third place in the contest “Enchanted.”

Muse

“Muse” won again (!), this time a third place win in “Best Digital Art on FAA.”

But the best news is that both of these images will be part of my first solo show called “Story,” which opens Tuesday, November 17, 2015 at Old Town Public House in Cornelius, NC. The show will run for three months, and the reception will be full of “story” in both image and word form. More details coming soon!!

Nighttime Playground

I’ve been a little behind in posting the images from the iPhone Eternal Childhood series to the blog. Here’s one I did a couple months ago: “Nighttime Playground.”

Each night, the Moon kisses secretly the lover who counts the stars. ~~Rumi

nighttime playground