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5 Things We Learned... Kysa Johnson



Years ago, I was introduced to Kysa Johnson's art by the dynamic Sally Morgan Lehman, director and co-founder at Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York. We worked together in 2016-17 on a commission for a series of paintings and have subsequently stayed in touch because A. Kysa is as engaging and friendly as they come...and B. Her always-evolving work.

Immediately arresting and meticulously composed, Kysa's paintings and multi-media installations immerse you into worlds where art and science collide. She brings to life innovative breakthroughs in math and physics, such as string theory, by artistically rendering elements like subatomic decay patterns and molecular structures into vibrant colors, shapes, and sketches. Trained at the renowned Glasgow School of Art, Johnson's unique works have been exhibited at institutions such as The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art (Ridgefield, CT), The National Academy of Sciences (Washington, DC), The Nicolaysen Museum (Casper, WY) and The 2nd Biennial of the Canary Islands, among others. She has also created site-specific projects for Dublin Contemporary (2011) and the New York Armory Show, (2013). 

Here are 5 Things We Learned about Kysa.

What made you...you?

I had an amazing chemistry teacher my sophomore year in high school who showed me that nature provides all the awe, wonder and sense of the sublime that one needs. My years at the Glasgow School of Art helped me to understand the importance of failure. That it wasn’t scary, but a necessary part of the process of creation. 

When are you happiest?

When I’m in the depths of working on a large-scale drawing installation or project. Traveling for work and with my family. I love the stimulation of being somewhere new and sharing that with people I love. 

Would you rather have a muse or be a muse?

Ooooh, definitely have a muse! I want to be the one working away, feeling inspired and excited. 

Who do you admire?

David Bohm, the physicist - he was someone who remained excited and curious about the world his whole life. He revolutionized quantum physics but also brought these ideas to philosophy and thoughts on social interactions. His work influenced me immensely and you can see joy in his eyes when you see photos of him. (Also) Women who pioneered in their field especially in times when it was looked down upon to do, so Georgia O’Keefe, Louise Bourgeois, and Ada Lovelace. 

What is important?

Approaching life with openness, honesty and humor. Not being afraid to fail, or to love. Staying curious, and interested in the world around you.

Follow Kysa on instagram @kysajohnson


Images from left to right: Kysa Johnson, photo by Yuri Hasegawa;  blow up 292 - subatomic decay patterns, ink on semi-gloss on board, 2016; (1 image, 3 pieces) blow up 318 - the long goodbye (history of gold) - subatomic decay patterns and binary neutron star in Circinus X-1, 2017 / blow up 283 - the long goodbye - history of gold - the Orion Nebula with neutron star, 2017 / blow up 319 - the long goodbye (history of gold) - subatomic decay patterns and quantum particles distorting light from neutron star RXJ 1856, 2017; blow up 203 - subatomic decay patterns after Piranesi’s ruins of Rome and waiting room (Bank of America) chalk on blackboard and multi-media full room installation, 2013; blow up 304 - the long goodbye - subatomic decay patterns and the dark clouds of NGC 2024, ink on high gloss on board, 2016; blow up 321 - [History of Gold] - Neutron Stars, Athena and the Great Seal - subatomic decay patterns and rapidly spinning neutron star PSR - B1509 with the Pillars of Solomon (installation view), chalk on blackboard paint on and ink on gloss on multi-media, 2017