Elyse Johnson (1992) is a queer, mixed American artist working in video and performance. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee and currently based in Chicago, her practice investigates hybrid identity, strategic illegibility, spectacle, and power. Johnson graduated from the Art Academy of Cincinnati (2015) where she was awarded the Stephen H. Wilder Traveling Scholarship, a grant awarded to two graduating seniors each year. With this award, Johnson traveled to Nova Scotia, Canada, where she completed a performance series in the Bay of Fundy, a location renowned for having the highest vertical tides in the world. Johnson has exhibited in the US and Berlin and is featured in EMERGENCY INDEX: An Annual Document of Performance Practice, Volume 8. (2019) and the most recent edition of Hiss Magazine (Issue 3, 2018). Johnson maintains a curatorial practice that centers liveness and shifting perceptions of identity, culturally and individually. She completed her MFA in Fine Arts at Parsons School of Design in Spring 2019.
Johnson's practice investigates imperialism, power, and spectacle as they apply to contemporary American identities, politics, and culture. Raised in the Southern United States, her practice is heavily influenced by Western Christianity and its relationship to abstraction. Within her performance practice, she engages physical and ethereal subjects and materials through ritual and repetition. Johnson’s practice centers ideas of deicide and prodigal identity using faith as a methodology for research. While maintaining a critical perspective, Johnson fosters emotional and spiritual connections to facts and information, regardless of their relationship to evidence. These belief systems manifest in her life and practice through altering forces of possession and disembodiment, urgency and unbelonging.