School of Architecture Professor Shares Love of Art with Students

Ann JohnsonPrairie View A&M University Assistant Professor of Practice Ann Johnson is a practicing visual artist who continually has her work featured in art exhibitions across the country. She also curates numerous art exhibitions and is an annual national fine arts judge for NAACP Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics or ACT-So.

“Most recently, I chaired the University’s 3rd Annual Juried Student Art Exhibition,” said Johnson. “We had dozens of students submit paintings, drawings, printmaking, sculptures, mixed media, and photography which encompassed this year’s theme, ‘The Awakening: Know Who You Are Before They Have to Tell You.’”

Johnson, an instructor of 22-plus years, teaches African American Art and Introduction to Visual Art at PVAMU, as well as the Fine Art courses – painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, craft design, and book arts.

“I like to explore various topics in my lecture courses. For instance, I created a project entitled Slavery in Five Words or Less. With this project, students place themselves digitally in a text-based image and, within the text, they have to describe slavery in five words or less,” said Johnson. “I have another project where I charge students with writing a letter from the slavery auction block. The students can write to whomever as they sit on an auction block, whether it be a member of their family or the slave master himself. These types of projects really encourage students to think outside the box.”

Johnson is constantly evolving to keep up with each generation of students who come through her classroom doors.

“Each year, it’s a new breed of students,” she said. “If my students don’t learn anything else from me, my hope is they learn to not just look at a work of art, but to look into it. Each piece of work tells you something about an artist, and if you see that, you begin to appreciate the passion that went into it.”

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-This story by Marchita Shilo originally appeared in Academic Insights.