Unwrapping a Festive Gift in February – when we really need it.

Artistry can easily be defined as a combination of skill, knowledge of craft, imagination, creative intent, and perseverance. But is that all of the story? I suspect it is how an artist intertwines, loops, twists and weaves all these nuances into a visual entity that ignites the viewer’s imagination and creates the need to see more, experience other levels of subtlety, instills the desire to embrace all that the artist has to offer. Some is never enough.


Unwrapping Vanessa: Fiber Memory Art by Vanessa Johnson is a visually mesmerizing exhibition of personal stories expressed in fabric, beads, small and found objects, and photographs. The exhibition explores Johnson’s new work that “honors the voices of women and girls who continue to influence the artist’s life, and speaks to her own transnational experience through women who inspire." Ms. Johnson combines her over two decade background as a fiber artist, writer, storyteller, community activist, and actor to bring dreamlike magic to her work. 

The exhibition, on view through March 25, 2017, is at ArtRage, the Norton Putter gallery located at 505 Hawley Avenue in Syracuse, NY, 315.218.5711, www.artragegallery.org

While you may miss Johnson’s interactive and compelling SOUL – a new theatrical work that “is a journey of DNA Memories, Present Markings, and Future Dreams (only two shows and the last one is today, Sunday, February 26th at 4 PM at ArtRage, $10 at the door,) this “performance” and audience participatory sharing is a riveting exploration of personal feelings and individual stories. Along with three other exemplary actors, this is an unique piece of theater with stunning designed costumes and up close, personal interactions with the audience. Truth be told, there are other actors in this show, and it is the audience, individually and collectively. Lisa Brennan and I experienced this sensitive aspect of theater last night at the initial showing.

Johnson’s artist talk will occur on March 8th at 7 pm at ArtRage. The talk is open to the public and free.

Unwrap a festive gift for yourself! You will not be disappointed.

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