Leroy Johnson

The inner-city landscape I depict is both map and metaphor for the actual landscape and the contents of the collective unconsciousness.
-Leroy Johnson

Leroy Johnson in his studio. Photo by Ryan Collerd.

My name is Leroy Johnson (b. 1937).  I was born and grew up in the Eastwick community of Southwest Philadelphia. Much of my work takes the form of painting, collage and found objects. My work is reflective of life in the inner city. I have participated consistently in solo or group shows, in the arts and crafts since the late sixties.  I have exhibited widely, some of the venues being: Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens; Tirza Yalon Kolton Ceramic Gallery (Tel Aviv); Gloucester County College (Sewell, NJ); University of Pennsylvania; Museum of Contemporary Crafts (Pittsburg, PA.); and numerous other galleries and locations over the years.  I have received grants from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Independence Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.  I received a MHS from Lincoln University. I am a 2014 PEW Fellow, and was recently chosen as the Directors Highlight in the Let’s Connect Competition at the Barnes Museum.  I have been a participating or resident artist for many community-based art projects, including at Ile Ife, The Village of Arts and Humanities, Taller Puertoqueno, the Church of the Advocate, and St. Francis Academy.  I have shown at several galleries both in Philadelphia and in New York. Additionally, I was the inaugural resident artist at the Art Barn in Amaranth, PA and am the current Peter Benoliel Fellow at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists and Mural Arts Studio Artist-in-Residence at the Barnes Museum.

Leroy Johnson is a mixed-media artist whose work takes the form of painting, collage, and assemblage sculpture. A native of Philadelphia, his work is poetic and reflective of his many experiences in the inner city. “I am impressed with ‘make-shift’ structures and structures shaped by necessity,” Johnson says. “The inner-city landscape I depict is both map and metaphor for the actual landscape and the contents of the collective unconsciousness.” His work captures the city in a way that is immediate, intuitive, and filled with experiential understanding, translating the weight of the urban environment into painting and sculpture.


Artist Statement

‘Activist artist’ Leroy Johnson working inside the Barnes fishbowl, WHYY

Inside the Outsider: Leroy Johnson, Leroy Johnson has lived on the edges of the art world for all his 80+ years, Articulate