Aron Johnston

"We Are All Downstream"  2010
“We Are All Downstream” 2010

Drawing has been a part of my life since I was a young boy. I spent innumerable hours sitting with pencil in hand trying to capture the images that ran through my overactive imagination. I kept myself amused with my drawing but became convinced that it was a poor career choice given that I was in no position to further my academic studies after high school.

After working a few odd jobs, I was accepted into the electrical apprenticeship in Eugene, Oregon and over the next fifteen years worked my way up to a managerial position with a profitable electrical construction company. The job provided my family with a good living, but I was deeply unhappy with what I was doing. I had given up my art ten years earlier, which had left me feeling hollow, and I knew I had left a vital part of myself behind.

"Extinguished" 2014
“Extinguished” 2014

So, with the encouragement of my beautiful wife, I left the construction industry and enrolled at Drake University in Iowa where I earned a BFA in Studio art (2013). I was introduced to painting, which I immediately fell in love with, and lithography. The processes involved in both media are extremely labor intensive and require a level of craftsmanship and attention to detail that I can easily get lost in.

My mother was a devout Catholic who had a great interest in mythology. She was also an avid reader and purchased books whose pictures of classic art became the subject of early studies. As a result, the religious and mythological paintings of the Italian Renaissance, along with the Baroque and Symbolist eras had a huge influence on me.

"The Academician" 2014
“The Academician” 2014

Hours spent running through the woods behind the rural Oregon home of my childhood instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature. Following deer trails though the forest took me to magical places that were part imagination, part reality. When that stand of forest was clear-cut it invoked a deep feeling of loss and sadness.

My playground had been reduced to a wasteland of stumps and ravaged earth and I wondered how we could justify the complete destruction of such beauty. I wondered what would become of this plot of land and the organisms that I shared the space with. Would they adapt? Would they be lost in a world that is being shaped for human convenience? What will happen to us when we completely lose sight of our connection to all the beauty that nature holds?

These experiences have shaped my practice and led to my current exploration of environment. I see environment as the ever-changing arena in which all things struggle to exist, as the scales where balance is found and lost.

Relationships between the various inhabitants of a given environment fascinate me and give birth to the images I create. Symbols of human thought and innovation are juxtaposed with those of natural origin, creating a curious narrative that the individual must sort out and answer based on their own life experience.