Molly Gaston JohnsonArt Form(s):
My own artwork is continuously inspired by patterns of life, growth, and behavior, specifically how human behavior is governed by the same basic instincts found in all living things. Printmaking (silkscreening, relief printing, embossing, etching, etc.) has always been the perfect medium for my artistic expression because it inherently asks the artist to have faith in creating something that is not immediately revealed. It allows the artist to follow a path, yet leave a trail of “proofs” behind to guide the journey and even revisit the journey in a new way. This process teaches valuable lessons to any artist and valuable life skills to any person. When I teach, I impart not only aesthetic guidance and technical skill to my students, but also opportunities for them to practice the sort of faith, patience and perseverance that printmaking of any sort demands. Then, the application of the print offers endless possibilities to use one's creation in many ways and share them with many people. I find printmaking to be a very democratic art form and enjoy teaching it to others from this perspective.
In April of 2020, Molly Gaston Johnson created, “Exquisitely Connected,” an east-coast/west-coast partnership between Maryhill Museum of Art and Monmouth Arts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This project allows people from anywhere to submit a visual art piece that expresses their ideas on this particular moment in time and digitally connects their work to that of others, forging larger and larger community connections and understandings.
Molly is a mother, Young Audiences credentialed teaching artist, college professor, studio artist specializing in printmaking (which requires planning, patience, and small steps to achieve end goals), 2019 Young Audiences NJ Teaching Artist of the Year, and a two-time winner of the New Jersey Governor’s Award (2012 and 2020)! All of these things inform her work with all ages. She is a proud part of the Young Audiences New Jersey/Eastern Pennsylvania family, where her art residencies blend discovery in hands on making with reading, social studies, math, social and emotional learning, and community-mindedness.
Molly continuously strives to keep her professional artistry ever-fresh by engaging her visual art skills within public art projects and a regular gallery presence. In addition to creating Exquisitely Connected at the beginning of the COVID shut-down, she participated in a 2019 Maryhill Museum of Art project, Exquisite Gorge, which selected 11 artists from across the country to create community-based work inspired by the Columbia River Gorge, and she was the only individual artist awarded a Dodge grant to develop New Jersey-based public art in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. She earned a full fellowship and an MFA from the Ohio State University, a BFA from James Madison University in printmaking and a BA in Art History, and a certificate from Columbia Teachers College Teaching Artist program. In 2017, she became credentialed teaching artist through an emerging Young Audiences national initiative, which she now helps to fine-tune through mentoring and committee work.