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Mar 3, 2021

In August 2020, Verlena L. Johnson was featured in ZAMI NOBLA’s virtual art show, Cocktails, Tea, and Art. This interview was recorded remotely a few days before the show.

Verlena L. Johnson was born and raised in the Midwest (Wisconsin and Illinois), but also briefly lived in New York City, Ealing England, Oakland, Long Beach and most recently Los Angeles.  She earned a Master's Degree in Afro-American Studies (emphasis: Art History, 1996) from the University of Wisconsin — Madison and a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Sculpture, 2001).  She has also studied wood carving with master Ghanaian woodcarvers and at both Penland School of Craft and Haystack Mountain School of Craft.

Her M.A. thesis, “The Image Text Composite in the Art of Faith Ringgold: Form and Narrative” explores Ringgold's art using WJT Mitchell's Picture Theory to examine the meaning created by Ringgold combining images and text.  It also examines Ringgold's "Picasso's Studio," as a meta-picture or a picture about pictures, specifically focusing on Black female subjectivity.  Thesis Advisor: Freida High Tesfagiorgis.

She has exhibited her work in Chicago (IL), Madison (WI), New York (NY), Oakland and Los Angeles (CA), amongst other places.