Nearly There: Johnnene Maddison

Opening Friday Sept 6th from 6-11pm
Atelier Ludmila Gallery 129 1/2 Hunter St. W. 2nd Floor
Peterborough, ON

    “A near death experience changes everything. Once my art was often about women – their rights, their history, their challenges. I used photo collage, textiles, embroidery and paint.

Then came a serious health crisis and with that a sense of time as narrow. Returning to my studio, I felt a different focus. From mixed media to a single one: acrylic. With this change I began to draw freely on canvas. I put the canvas on the floor and drew in dark brown acrylic paint with my brush attached to a three-foot long dowel. It is impossible to be rigid with this gestural technique.

When the paint dried, I looked for the shape closest to the surface and filled it with the brightest colour. In the areas that I see as background, I used darker values. The painting takes on an immediacy for me and I respond, building the work with strong, intense colours.

I’m committed to depict suggestions of time and space in ways that reflect what I am experiencing as I paint, which is grateful joy at being alive. These are not dark paintings. They are about the moment, intensely personal and immediate”.
Johnnene Maddison 2019

A Driving Force: Interview with Western University McIntosh Gallery

Johnnene Maddison
Growing up near the Detroit Institute of Arts had a profound impact on the rest of
my life as an artist. I was able to take art lessons at the Detroit Institute of Art from
the time I was 10 years old until my late teens. Drawing while sitting on the floor
beneath the Diego Rivera murals was an inspiring and empowering experience.
I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Pratt Institute in New York City and took
full advantage of the exciting world of art in New York. My teachers included Phillip
Pearlstein, Jacob Lawrence, Werner Pfeiffer, Fitz Eichenberg and other amazing
artists. I spent a few years after graduation working in art studios in Detroit and Los
Angeles before earning a Master of Arts degree at the University of Michigan. During
that time I worked as a cake decorator, an interior designer, a poster artist for
Hollywood Bell Telephone, a window display artist and a keyline and paste-up
artist. I moved to Windsor, Ontario and worked at the Art Gallery of Windsor. I
earned a teaching certificate at Althouse College in London, Ontario. That enabled
me to teach in Ontario Secondary Schools, at Fanshawe College and UWO adult
education classes.
My exhibition, Women, Work and WWII traveled to eight Ontario public galleries and
museums and was featured in magazines in Canada, the United States, England and
Japan. Fifteen pieces were purchased by the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. A
book by the same title was published thanks to funding from the Ontario Trillium
I have won first place awards in group shows in Michigan, North Carolina and
Ontario. I won the National Visual Arts Advocacy Award from Canadian Artists’
Representation (CARFAC).
After the loss of my husband, I completed a series of mixed media pieces dealing
with issues of loss, grieving and recovery. Currently I am working in acrylics on
canvas. This series echoes back to my early New York years when I worked in an
abstract expressionism style.
My current work is about individuality and the experience of women as both
powerful and vulnerable. Rather than planning a piece, I quickly begin working
about my immediate thoughts, fears, notions, dreams and ideas. Through active line
and strong colour, I confront the complexity of identity, gender and the need to
reinvent myself.