Johnnene's current body of work is acrylic paint and mixed media collage. The collage elements are fragments of photos that she has taken. The photos explore texture, colour and abstract images.
Her intention is to understand concepts of individuality and the experience of women as both powerful and vulnerable. Through active, almost chaotic line and brilliant colour, she confronts the complexity of identity, gender and a need to re‐invent herself after 40 years as a wife and mother. This former identity no longer serves her. Her current challenge is to navigate life as an artist and find her place among the female artists who have preceded her.
The making of art for Johnnene always begins with a very strong emotional response to an event, a political situation, a news story, a feminist issue or a personal experience. While completing her graduate degree at the University of Michigan she took a media course. The term “the medium is the message” was a new phrase coined by Marshall McLuhen in 1964. To her it said that choosing the right medium to carry her message was as important as the message itself. Johnnene's medium has changed over the years depending on what message she wished to express. She has worked in oils, watercolours, collage, fibre art, drawing and acrylic depending on which medium best carried her message.
Her previous bodies of work detailed the plight of women in Afghanistan, a personal journey through loss and the stories of working women in WWII. These issues were best portrayed respectively in watercolour, mixed media and fibre art. After many years of working her way through these serious issues, she began experimenting with exuberant colours and a more optimistic, if somewhat chaotic view of her new life. She believes the best medium for this new work is acrylic because of its brilliance and colour saturation. What she finds interesting is that these “new” works echo back to her “older” work in Abstract Expressionism in New York City in the 1960s.
After much initial self‐doubt, she has come to know and trust her inner self and personal growth. She has found a source for making art that allows her to reveal that which is private in a way that resounds as a universal truth. This public exposure becomes an on going motivation for her.