Sponsored Fellowships: Sue Johnson

When visual artist Sue Johnson was invited to be a VCCA-Sweet Briar College Fellow, she was intently working on her on-going project, The Alternate Encyclopedia, an investigation into the history and practice of collecting and cataloguing nature. So when Sweet Briar scheduled an exhibition of this work, the timing proved ideal for Sue, the Steven Muller Distinguished Professor of Art at St. Mary's College of Maryland, to return for a VCCA residency while lecturing at the college. During her two-week fellowship, Sue worked with Professor of Studio Art Laura Pharis and her printmaking class, focusing on monotype techniques, and gave two public lectures.

This partnership with Sweet Briar allows students to encounter accomplished artists and their work in an informal setting. "This encouraged them to share issues and ask questions of importance to them after having had a chance to digest the lectures, exhibition and class visits," says Sue. Being a participant in this collaborative program, which provides Sweet Briar extended access to established artists who may also develop new work at the VCCA, was a stimulating impetus to think about her own work in unexpected ways. "A residency, no matter what kind, is an opportunity to interact with an arts-interested community, which can lead to conversations about an artists' work that might not happen at a formal opening or lecture," she says.

Sue has more recently traveled to the Salzburg Künstlerhaus artist residency in Austria as part of the VCCA's exchange program. She stretched beyond her normal disciplines of painting and printmaking to create slip-cast (porcelain) china as an artist-in-residence at the Arts/Industry Program of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She has also had successful exhibitions at Swarthmore College and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens’ Steinhardt Gallery, which featured new paintings on paper.