Heather L. Johnson

Heather L. Johnson with her motorcycle at a garage in Costa Rica. Photo by Heather L. Johnson.

About Heather L. Johnson

Dramatic cultural transitions defined every move Heather Johnson made growing up. From Hawaii to suburban Chicago, from Rio Grande du Sol, Brazil to Heber City, Utah; from Woking, Surrey, England to Houston, Texas, she adapted habitually, stretching herself into a new shape to conform to each new territory. This process, along with an entrenched fondness for motorcycles and long road trips, has inspired her investigation of rootlessness, of moving through space without connecting to it. Johnson’s work examines spaces from the perspective of an outsider looking in, positioning the viewer to gaze intimately at things that are temporary, generally ignored, or distorted by memory.

I strive to inspire questions about where we are as humans, physically and psychologically, in relation to what surrounds us.” 

                                         — Heather L. Johnson

Employing a range of media, Johnson’s work re-enacts the act of searching, of hunting for clues from the past to build new connections to the present. Drawing on source material such as maps, engineering schematics, official documents, newspaper articles, internet ephemera, and the personal stories of friends and strangers, Johnson often uses labor-intensive processes to render richly layered images of things often forgotten or taken for granted.

Johnson looks for relationships between different types of experiences searching for evidence in the landscape of patterns and cycles that reveal our own fragile natures, as humans, in relation to it. It is her hope that the work inspires questions about where we are, physically and psychologically, in relation to what surrounds us.


Heather L. Johnson and her Yamaha 250XT motorcycle

Born in 1969 in Wahiawa, Hawaii, Johnson has shown her work in galleries, museums and throughout public spaces in the United States, Mexico, Japan and Europe. In 2001, she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from California College of the Arts in San Francisco, and has completed residencies at McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, NC; BoxoHOUSE in Joshua Tree, CA; and Winthrop University in South Carolina.

Johnson has curated several exhibitions and collaborative projects, including Cracks in the Pavement: Gifts in the Urban Landscape, involving artists from around the world; Love Letter, a collection of collaborative site-specific works presented in New York and Paris; and most recently, In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful, a project-in-progress of landscape interventions around the United States and Mexico. 

Johnson currently lives a nomadic life aboard her Yamaha 250XT motorcycle. So far, the journey has covered 38,000 miles, through 14 countries, where she has left 45 works behind or in the hands of strangers she met throughout her travels. You can learn more about Johnson and the In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful project on her official website, www.heatherljohnson.com.

Selected Solo/Duo Exhibits

  • 2018 – “Hall of Roses Mural Unveiling and Art Show,” Foundation Room at House of Blues Houston, Houston, TX
  • 2017 – “Refusing Providence,” Flatland Gallery, Houston, TX (duo exhibit with David Janesko) 
  • 2017 – “Full Circle,” BoxoHouse, Joshua Tree, CA 
  • 2016 – “In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful,” Cherryhurst House, Houston, TX 
  • 2014 – “In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful,” University Art Gallery, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA 
  • 2014 – “In Search of the Frightening and Beautiful,” Yam Gallery, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico 
  • 2012 – “Suck Squeeze Bang Blow,” Kesting/Ray Gallery, New York, NY 
  • 2010 – “Erasure,” Christina Ray, New York, NY 
  • 2009 – “Air and Blood,” Glowlab, New York, NY 
  • 2009 – “No Distractions,” Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, NJ 
  • 2007 – “Hard/Soft,” Conflux 2007, Brooklyn, NY 
  • 2006 – “Degrees of Separation,” Women & Their Work, Austin, TX
  • 2003 – “Your Space,” Patrick Gallery, Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC 
  • 2002 – “Telling Time by Remote Control,” Ampersand International Arts, San Francisco, CA 

Selected Group Exhibits

  • 2020 – “In Residence: 12th Edition,” Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Houston, TX 
  • 2018 – “The Magnificent Seven,” 14 Pews Contemporary Art Gallery at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Houston, TX
  • 2017 – “Guest Star,” Devin Borden Gallery, Houston, TX 
  • 2014 – “Drive,” Lawndale Art Center, Houston, TX 
  • 2013 – “Mapping the Unfamiliar,” BoxoPROJECTS, New York, NY 
  • 2013 – “Object! Object!,” Good Good Things, San Diego, CA
  • 2011 – “Révision Périphérique,” Projective City, Paris, France 
  • 2011 – “Pulse LA,” Christina Ray, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2010 – “NEXT Fair,” Christina Ray, Chicago, IL 
  • 2008 – “15th Anniversary Group Show,” Gallery 16, San Francisco, CA
  • 2007 – “Between To and From,” New Jersey Visual Art Center, Summit, NJ 
  • 2007 – “Fountain New York,” Glowlab, New York, NY
  • 2005 – “Stitch in Time,” Women & Their Work, Austin, TX
  • 2005 – “Somewhere Outside It,” Schroeder Romero, Brooklyn, NY
  • 2004 – “Connect-the-Dots,” LeRoy Neiman Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY 
  • 2004 – “Draw_Drawing,” Gallery 32, London, England, Presented as a part of London Biennale 2004
  • 2003 – “Crossing Bridges,” The Contemporary Jewish Museum at CBS MarketWatch, San Francisco 
  • 2003 – “Accumulated Actions,” Sonoma Museum of Visual Art, Santa Rosa, CA
  • 2002 – “Delicate Surprise,” Room Space, Gentilly, France 
  • 2001 – “Trace,” Ampersand International Arts, San Francisco, CA
  • 1999 – “Young Portfolios 1999,” Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts, Kiyosato, Yamanashi, Japan 

Gallery Aferro as curatorial liaison for Heather L. Johnson

Gallery Aferro is proud to work with Heather L. Johnson to help facilitate all research, purchases and exhibition services for her substantial body of work.

For art collectors, curators, scholars, educators, students and enthusiasts, you can now inquire with the gallery staff about Johnson’s artworks, as well as access catalogued images and information about her extensive collection of drawings, paintings, murals, and embroidery work on fabric.

To learn more about this curatorial relationship and how to review and purchase works by Heather L. Johnson, please contact Gallery Manager Candace Nicholson at cnicholson@aferro.org