Tanya P Johnson is a visual artist based in the Slocan Valley, British Columbia and part time in Cape Town, South Africa. She was born in Nairobi, Kenya and grew up in Cape Town. She received her Honours Degree in Fine Art from Michaelis Art School at the University of Cape Town, majoring in painting.
Her childhood was a curious dialogue between art and dance classes and the reality of apartheid and revolution. This marked her life and continues to inform her work.
After art school, Johnson left South Africa on a cargo ship, working her passage to Europe where she was drawn to the edges and underbellies of European society. She became affiliated with punks, environmentalists, anti fascists and renegades in her continued search for perspective on her identity of being a seventh generation South African with European ancestry. Traveling Europe, she made and sold art, taught art, wrote essays, performed on the streets and painted murals.
She is an adventurer, seeker, land defender, freight hopper, hitch hiker, cargo ship traveler. Political and environmental activism brought her to North America.
Johnson lives with her family rurally in British Columbia. In addition to a rigorous studio practice, her life includes growing food, collecting seeds, picking medicines in the mountains, swimming in rivers and lakes, walking in the woods with her black dog and working with indigenous people. She is drawn to the random, is fierce about justice, likes foxes and dislikes locusts, sharks and oppression.
Johnson has translated her visual language into various media including paper cutting, printmaking, collage, installation, design, painting in public spaces and collaboration with playwrights and choreographers. Her art practice examines edges, belonging, real history, thresholds, the unseen and relationship with land. She is interested in the supernatural, transformation, culture, language, cosmology and ancestors.
Tanya P Johnson has shown nationally and internationally at numerous public and private exhibitions and attended artist residencies in Canada, South Africa and Europe.