CCA alumna Heather Johnson’s (MFA 2001) artist residency with BoxoHOUSE, one of the newer residency programs in Joshua Tree, California, provided her with a unique opportunity -- an ambitious motorcycle journey and visual art project called In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful -- which has forever changed her life’s trajectory and art practice.
About the BoxoHOUSE Artist Residency
Johnson began the BoxoHOUSE artist residency, conceived and directed by former Judd Foundation deputy director, Bernard Leibov, in 2012. The residency targets artists who work across diverse media and prioritizes those who are exploring issues of site, community, and the environment.
"Heather’s practice is composed primarily of creating very detailed handmade embroideries that resemble highly defined drawings," explains Leibov on the BoxoHOUSE website. "She layers the embroideries so that the base imagery deals with the experience of the project and the upper layers portray mechanical drawings related to the subject matter.
"In the works inspired by this latest project, the under layer consists of a series of topographical and navigation maps that capture the experience of being on the road with its ups and downs and twists and turns. The upper layer is made up of technical drawings of her motorcycle and of its constituent parts.
"Heather considers the bike to be an extension of herself – they are as one when on the road – and the parts to be like her body parts."
Johnson found the project to be a dream opportunity: “In addition to one month of uninterrupted research and art making, this meant a motorcycle journey across the United States and back -- something I’ve dreamed of since the day I learned to keep a 500 pound hunk of metal upright and moving forward on two wheels.”
Backed by a crowdfunding campaign, Johnson spent April, May, and June of 2013 out on the road and at residency in Joshua Tree, developing In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful.”