Kierra Jenaé Johnson’s work explores how culture and ancestral memory is retained through the body. She’s interested in how memories manifest in expressions to produce a collective experience.
Kierra’s current project SIGNIFY is a series of staged portraits photographed with a focus on hands, to depict communicative gestures and rituals associated with Black cultural identity. The individuals who posed for this project are a mix of her birth family in the American South and chosen family in Oakland. To deepen her exploration of the body’s ability to hold onto culture, she made images in Alabama, Georgia, and California to mirror migration patterns of Black people in the 20th century. In addition to her lived experience as a Southern Black woman with working-class roots, this project drew inspiration from Kasi Lemmons’ film Eve’s Bayou, George Tillman Jr.’s film Soul Food, and the everyday lives of Black people.
At The Ramp Gallery, Kierra is showing selected works from her series SIGNIFY.
Listen to the Artist:
About Kierra Jenaé Johnson
Kierra Jenaé Johnson (b. 1989 Decatur, GA) is a visual artist whose photo practice uses staged portraiture to explore black cultural traditions and how they are expressed through the body. Her work explores the concepts of spirituality, beauty, interpersonal relationships, ancestral memory, and place.
Kierra counts her upbringing in grandparents’ church in Vincent, AL, summers in Columbus, OH and attending private and public schools in Decatur, GA as her biggest influences.
She has been commissioned by Walker & Co, Google, Ernst & Young, and Stanford Graduate School of Business. Her recent work SIGNIFY has been included in exhibitions and performances at Betti Ono Gallery, SOMArts Cultural Center, Ashara Ekundayo Gallery, and North Carolina Arts Council.
Kierra currently lives in Oakland, CA and is the Founder/Creative Director of Unity Studio — a creative company bringing unique visual experiences to brands and their communities.
You can find her work at:
Meet The Artist
Kierra Jenaé Johnson will be at SOMArts on February 14, 2019, from 6 – 9 pm for the reception of Signify. Visit The Ramp Gallery for a chance to meet the artist, talk about their work and inspiration, have a drink and enjoy their awesome artwork! While you’re here, stop by the opening reception of our Main Gallery exhibition, Forever, A Moment: Black Meditations on Time and Space. A cash bar will be available all evening.