ART AWARD: Johnson tapped for prestigous fellowship
Published 3:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2016
Jerry Johnson, Troy University professor of design, was awarded visual arts fellowship by the Alabama State Council on the Arts (ASCA) at is June meeting in Montgomery.
Johnson was one of 16 artists who were honored with the fellowships that are awarded to individual artists and are based on merit of work, career achievement, professional development and service to state. The fellowship award was in the amount of $5,000.
In announcing the award, ASCA said that Johnson’s work reflects images that are sophisticated and well crafted due to his skillful computer detailing. Johnson actively collaborates with another Alabama artist to produce work that is educational as well as artistic.
Johnson said he was honored to know that his peers recognize his work in such a positive way.
“It’s a fabulous feeling,” he said. “I’ve lived 16 years in Alabama and I absolutely love the rich diversity of creative work being done by so many Alabamians. I count it a privilege to join the ranks of so many highly respected and prolific artists and designers who have received this honor before me. I am very grateful.”
Johnson said the monetary award he received will be used to develop a collaboration of work between him and Troy University colleague and professor in music, Dr. Diane Orlofsky, into a published book.
The co-creation between the two artists was born of their love of the arts – his for art and hers for music and meditations.
“Diane and I share similar experiences and ideas but, most certainly, we share a love for creative collaboration,” Johnson said. “As Diane writes from her heart and her discipline, I come alongside her with visuals that illuminate her meaningful medications. There is a wonderful, co-creative ‘dance’ that happens between us.”
Johnson said his goal in applying for the ASCA fellowship was to further develop his and Orlofsky’s collaboration into a published book. Something he could not have dreamed as a boy growing up in a small Oklahoma town.
“My dad was a drill sergeant with the US Air Force and my experience with art was shallow at best,” Johnson said. “But I’ve always drawn. I would draw these funny little characters and my parents would laugh and giggle at them and, from their responses, I received positive reinforcement.”
The high school Johnson attended didn’t offer art. He played sports and took a music class, which he loved.
“I was the only boy in the school that didn’t take agriculture,” he said, laughing. “But I did work on the farm.”
Johnson attended college in Oklahoma and, there, he fell in love with everything creative.
“My dad must have seen raw talent in me because he supported my interest in the arts,” Johnson said. “For 10 years, I played in a Christian rock band, Solid Rock. About half of those years, we played part time. Then, we decided to dedicate ourselves to the band and traveled all around the country.”
Johnson used his artistic talent to design the band’s logo, album covers, T-shirts, all the collateral pieces. And that work set the stage for the professional artist that he was becoming.
Johnson lived out a dream during those years with Solid Rock. Today, he is living out another dream as a professor of design and as a collaborator with a friend on a project that is the heart and soul of them both.