CHRIS JOHNSON

Chris Johnson

For many years, Chris Johnson has been an esteemed professor of photography at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA. He is the author of The Practical Zone System for Film and Digital Photography, currently in its fifth edition. He has served as president of SF Camerawork, director of the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography, and chair of the City of Oakland's Cultural Affairs Commission. Recently, he has partnered with former student and award-winning visual artist Hank Willis Thomas on a highly successful and innovative trans-media art project known as Question Bridge: Black Males. Among the institutions that have collected Chris's artwork are the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, Oakland Museum of California and Center for Creative Photography.

As impressive as these professional credentials are, it is Chris's relationship with Wynn, along his continuing study and scholarship of Wynn's creative journey that made him the High Museum's first choice as presenter for the June 19, 2014 opening reception of the Wynn Bullock: Revelations exhibition. Not only has Chris been an active lecturer on Bullock photography, he has written about his mentor for several publications, including the reference series Contemporary Photographers. Chris and Wynn's daughter Barbara Bullock-Wilson co-authored the book Wynn Bullock 55, published by Phaidon Press in 2001, and Chris was also a valued contributor to the book Wynn Bullock: Color Light Abstractions, produced in 2010 to accompany a 44-print traveling exhibition of the same name.

Chris first encountered Wynn's work in 1971 while browsing through a bookstore close to his apartment in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. As a teen from the rough neighborhoods of Brooklyn, Chris had moved to the West Coast to pursue a career as a folk singer. Not long after he concluded that his musical abilities didn't match his aspirations, he became intrigued with the idea that "seeing could itself be a creative process". It was during this emerging period that he discovered the monograph of Wynn's images published by Scrimshaw Press. The cover photo was The Shore, 1966 and it changed the way Chris thought about and related to the world.

In the winter of 1973, Chris had the opportunity to meet Wynn at an Ansel Adams Yosemite workshop. It was another revelatory experience for Chris. Although he was a youth in his early twenties and Wynn was fifty years older, they both felt an affinity of heart and mind. From that point on, Chris was a welcomed visitor in the Bullock home where many "transformative conversations" were shared. As Chris has written, Wynn "became one of the earliest and deepest influences" on his creative life. Since Wynn's death in November 1975, that influence has continued to be a wellspring of inspiration not only for Chris but also for those whose lives he touches with his insights about his mentor's legacy.

To view Chris Johnson's website, click here.



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