Pittsburgh Artist Registry

Andrew Ellis Johnson

Andrew Ellis Johnson

Artistic Category Artist
Career Level Mid-career
Experienced With Collaboration, Lectures, Public art, Speaking engagements, Teaching engagements

My work addresses the exigencies of daily realities and redresses the refined aesthetics of art. It is diverse in media but united by conceptual and tactical approaches that present subjects rather than objects. I strive for a cursory clarity that becomes complicated with circumspection, an initial seduction that leads into intractable situations. I seek the naked, stark and confrontational and the psychologically torpid terrain where they reside. I aspire to an execution that is unassuming and transparent. I typically rely on the iconic, the familiar twisted and all the more recognizable for it. I frequently take recourse in humor and poetry to both alleviate and intensify the bleak and unbearable. I choose to cloak eternal questions in topical garb, for urgency calls forth and may assist the living, discomfort the nostalgic, and undermine resignation

Andrew Ellis Johnson was born in Cortland, New York to a jazz guitarist, civil war historian father and science major mother who, together, won many bowling tournaments.   He made his first life-size faux bronze sculpture of Baron Manfred Von Richtoven at the age of 13, miniature marzipan figurines of Fats Waller at 11 and his first film cycle on the battle of Gettysburg at 9.  In pursuit of his film and painting interests, he studied at SUNY Buffalo and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he received his BFA.   After years in Europe and Asia, he earned an MFA in Art at Carnegie Mellon while serving as an artist-in-residence at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, curating an exhibition of inmate art at the City Theater, and presenting five solo exhibits in the tri-state region.


Subsequently he attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and a residency through Poznan Academy of Art in Poland.  His nomadic teaching career included positions at College of the Holy Cross, University of Nebraska in Omaha, West Virginia University, a five-month studio stint in Amsterdam, and five years at University at Buffalo where, with Millie Chen and Paul Vanouse, he co-founded PED in 2001.  PED is a socially engaged collective that has offered bicycle/lecture tours for international site-specific projects in Buffalo, Hamilton, Belfast, Chongqing and Rio de Janeiro.  Since 2004, Johnson has been Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon School of Art, punctuated by a 2006 teaching residency at Korean National University of the Arts in Seoul and a 2011 exchange at University of the Arts London at Camberwell.  More recent international projects/residencies include those at Fayoum International Art Center in Egypt (2011), and Sites of Passage in Jerusalem/Ramallah/Pittsburgh (2013).


Johnson’s exhibitions address exigencies of daily realities and undress the refined aesthetics of art. Some past exhibition topics include: the Haitian grass roots movement in Lavalas; homelessness in Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine neighborhood in A·Dressing Room; predatory economics in just another market mop up and StOck OptiOns; hemispheric hegemonies in Democracy on Ice; unabated sowing of land mines in Spring---Let Them Keep Their Children Tethered; crises in the Middle East in Pressed: When Words Were Earth, Fleece, Fold, The Annunciation II: VICTEORY (sic), Pluck and in And Gazelles? And Gazelles; cultural eclipses in One Night or a Thousand Others, Cleave, Formal Graffiti and Eternal Flames;the visibility and invisibility of communication in Zeitgeist and Airborne; meditations on labor and myth in Till, Hind, and Hawker Hacker, Herald. Venues for his work have included museums, galleries, electronic arts and video festivals, public collaborations, conferences, books and journals in North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15237

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  • Drawing
  • Installation
  • Mixed-media
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Sculpture
  • Social Practice / Civic Engagement
  • Sound / Audio
  • Video


  • Conceptual
  • Cultural
  • Digital manipulation
  • Experimental
  • Ink
  • Mural
  • Oil Paint
  • Pen
  • Plaster
  • Representational
  • Transgressive
  • Video
  • Collage
  • Concrete / cement
  • Figurative
  • Gouache
  • Graphite
  • New media
  • Still life
  • Stone
  • Time-based
  • Wax