ROOTS Week 2019 Artist Statement: Angela Davis Johnson

ROOTS Week 2019 artwork created by Angela Davis Johnson.

As I began this work, the questions that came up for me during the creation process were: In what ways do external projections of class change how we interact with one another? How does power shift as we self identify in regards to class? And as artists, how does that perception and stratification show up in our collective work? Ultimately, this piece considers the multiple layers and interconnected aspects of our culture within ROOTS and the society at large. In the painting, the bodies are touching and flowing together to reflect both the fluidity and friction of our understanding of class, race, age, and differently abled bodies. I wanted to translate the tensions and harmonies by drawing each figure in jutted discorded lines that connected smoothly together. I was imagining worlds like fractals within each figure. I wanted to imagine the spaces for dreaming in and beyond the notion of societal constructs through the patterns and a range of vibrant color. The expressions of hope, sorrow, jubilation and unease embodied by each figure represent the complexities and nuances of the individual yet collective experience.

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Angela Davis Johnson, informed by the wisdom of the matriarchs in her family, creates paintings, sculptures, installations, and ritual performances to examine and archive the technologies of black folks. She generates experiential spaces to bring personal and communal healing around poverty, displacement, and state sanctioned violence. Davis Johnson has performed in several states in the regional south. Her works can be seen in galleries, museums, and private collections throughout the United States. When she is not traveling, the mother of two, lives and holds space in Atlanta, GA.


Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.