• Death Valley VIII
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 40 x 32 inches
    • Colorado Bluff I
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 38 x 38 inches
    • Pierodella Francesca Waves II
    • Oil on Canvas
    • 42 x 60 inches

Artist Statement

As a visual artist, I am interested in how images play a role in the construction, propagation, and continuation of social, political, economic, and historical norms. Power in part operates through the creation and distribution of images, and images play a big role creating discourse both for the purposes of regimes of control and for methods of resistance. I analyze what and how we see what we see by amassing into a digital archive images from news sources depicting current events, from historical image databases such as the Library of Congress and Presidential Libraries, from movie stills and History Paintings, and from Google image searches. I also increasingly work from photographs that I take myself while traveling and while driving through the desert.

I use multiple methods to layer and juxtapose images from different places and times to complicate how we see those images. I have created acrylic and resin sculptures filled with collage, video installations, and paintings. In my most recent work I layer landscape and seascape photographs that I take myself with shapes, colors and compositions from paintings I admire. This layering inspires beautiful color and generates an intersection of spatial arrangements and temporalities. Rather than describing a singular scene of landscape or seascape these paintings incorporate the time that it takes to make them and connects them to art historical time. In my paintings the scene can lay illusionistically in space and pop back and forth between the surface and a space within the frame creating a captivating, meditative space that invokes a memory of images that we have seen before at the same time that they create an all together new image. The paintings articulate specific scenes while simultaneously summoning remembered images, a projection into the future, or an imagined vision of space.

Artist Bio

Anna Elise Johnson received her MFA from the University of Chicago in 2012 and her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis in 2005, with a major in painting and a minor in art history. She was born in Starnberg, Germany, and grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado. After completing her BFA, Johnson worked in the arts in Baltimore and Denver and as an assistant to her father, who is also an artist. Afterwards she lived in Berlin, Germany for years and worked as an artist assistant for Julie Mehretu. After completing her MFA at the University of Chicago, Anna Elise was a fellow at the Core Program in Houston, TX. She now lives and paints in Los Angeles, CA as well as part of the year in Rome, Italy. She has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions across the United States as well as internationally in Germany, England, Delhi, and Slovenia.

Selected Exhibitions

Born Starnberg, Germany

B.F.A., Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

M.F.A., The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL


Core Program Fellow, Houston, Texas
Rice University Adjunct Faculty, Human Figure Drawing

Core Program Fellow, Houston, TX (to present)
Rice University Adjunct Faculty, Drawing I

Core Program Fellow, Houston, TX
Rice University Adjunct Faculty, Drawing I
Smart Museum of Art, Drawing Teacher, Sketching at the Smart Museum
Painting Assistant for David Robbins at The Smart Museum’s show “Feast: Radical Hospitality in Contemporary Art”

Tottenham Hale International Studio’s Residency Program, London, United Kingdom

Artist’s Assistant for Julie Mehretu, Berlin, Germany

Artist’s Assistant for Julie Mehretu, Berlin, Germany (2008 – 2009)

Artist’s Assistant for Roger Hayden Johnson (Anna Elise’s father)


The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, TX


Second Sight, Cris Worley Fine Art, Dallas, TX

Inner Workings, Cris Worley Fine Art, Dallas, TX
Structural Adjustment, The Mission, Chicago, IL

Cajole the Nice Nice, GAR Gallery, Galveston, TX

Slantwise, Otherwise, Blaffer Art Museum, Windows into Houston, Houston, TX

Congress Applauding Reagan, April 28, 1981, Windows on Main, Houston, TX

“We Cannot Accept Your Position”, Lage Egal, Berlin, Germany


Color Fields: Interpretations of the Landscape, Space Gallery, Denver, CO

Patternmaster, W Hotel, Los Angeles, CA
Sapphire, Weinberg/ Newton Gallery, Chicago, IL
Flat Foldability, Harmony Murphy Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Looking Askance, Gallery SKE, New Delhi, India
Looking Askance, The University of Chicago Delhi Center, New Delhi, India
The Ambassadors, Cris Worley Fine Arts, Dallas, TX
Linear Imaginations, Sicardi Gallery, Houston, TX

Moments in the System, Mission Gallery, Houston, TX
After Walker Evans, Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, Fort Worth, TX
Brucennial, New York, NY
Core Group Exhibition, Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX
Moving, Not Moving, McKinney Avenue Contemporary, Dallas, TX

Mass Media, Mixed Media, Chuchifritos Gallery & Project Space, New York, NY
Core Group Exhibition, Glassell School of Art, Houston, TX

Art and Politics, Hewitt Gallery of Art, New York, NY
2084, Slovenian Cinematheque, Ljubljana, Slovenia
On Loan, Tiger Strikes Asteroid, Philadelphia, PA
Wildernesses, Logan Center, Chicago, IL
Annual Juried Show, DOVA Temporary, Chicago, IL

MDW Art Fair, Chicago, IL

Heilige Lüge, Art Space Informal, Berlin, Germany

Lay Down Your Ruler, Schleiermacher Gallery, Berlin, Germany
Group Exhibition, Ludwig-Lowe Hofe Art Space, Berlin, Germany

Play, Glogauer Residency, Berlin, Germany
Group Exhibition, Space Gallery, Denver, CO

Juried Photography Show, Muse Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
Hallway Pieces: Ongoing Interactive Installations, 123 Landvale Street, Baltimore, MD

Art in Human Motion, Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, Fredericksburg, VA
Photographic Image Biennial, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Photography: A Moment in Time, St. Louis Artist’s Guild, St. Louis, MO
Best of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO
National Computer Art Invitational Exhibition, Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA
The Minnesota National Print Biennial, Minneapolis, MN
The Greater Midwest International Exhibition, Warrensburg, MO

The Best of America, Osage Beach, MO