Sarah Anne Johnson (b. 1976, Canada) creates images that aim to capture not just a moment in time, but the experience and emotion of a place. In her series Woodland, Johnson takes photos of the Manitoba woods near her home, then alters them digitally and manually, using Photoshop, paint, and foil to add bright spots of color and shine between tree branches and tangles of foliage. The resulting kaleidoscopic images are dreamy, psychedelic, and whimsical. Johnson's work rejects the notion that photographs capture reality, suggesting instead, with a child-like innocence, that there is a world beyond what can be seen through a lens.
To achieve this sense of transcendence, Johnson incorporates indigenous knowledge, plant biology, and the impacts of nature on ancient architecture. The artist's works are spiritual and utopian, drawing influence from Canada's Group of Seven painters and the Hudson River School, both of whom depicted North America's landscapes as akin to the cathedrals of Europe. The artist presents a dichotomy between reality and perception, evoking feelings of tranquility and happiness, pleasure and calm, as well as a connection to the landscape and a sense of belonging in nature.
Work by Sarah Anne Johnson is held in permanent collections across the globe, including those of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Musée départemental d'art contemporain de Rochechouart, France; Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; and the Canada Arts Council, Art Bank, Ottawa, among numerous other institutions. She received her BFA from the University of Manitoba and her MFA from Yale University. Johnson was born in 1976 in Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, where she currently resides.