Anna Johnson is a printmaker, painter, and mixed-media artist based in Fargo whose work has been shown widely across the region. Her layered approach explores both the dualities and points of connections between traditional and contemporary materials. Much of her family resides in the Turtle Mountains in Belcourt, North Dakota, a landscape whose natural, spiritual, and familial roots influence her work.

“My work is an active effort to keep my people alive,” Johnson told the Art Partnership. “Native American stories are not always known, even by other Native Americans . . . I like the idea of bringing awareness of my culture to more people.”

ZJohnson seeks to bridge the gap between the world she lives in and the culture she came from. The imagery Johnson uses comes directly from her Chippewa culture, and she often incorporates many different totem animals and traditional designs. In her work, symbolism and narrative are centered and rooted in place - and sometimes combine elements of watercolor, ink, and collage alongside birch bark harvested from her mother’s home. For example, in her 2019 Plains Art Museum exhibition Layer by Layer, Johnson portrayed symbolic and narrative images of the Chippewa Creation Story, breathing life into an oral history made manifest with vibrant, contemporary image-making.

Johnson is originally from Bismarck and has lived most of her life in North Dakota. She received her BFA from North Dakota State University in 2010. Johnson is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Most of her family members live in the Turtle Mountains in Belcourt, North Dakota, where she spends a great deal of her free time. The natural beauty of the area continues to inspire her and influence her work.

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