Assistant Professor in Intermedia, Mentor
BA/MA 1985 Stanford University (Human Biology/Education with Dance Specialization)
Based in Portland, OR, interdisciplinary artist Linda K. Johnson has been working throughout the country as a maker, performer, educator, arts administrator and public artist for over 20 years. An Oregon native, she has been critically recognized for her distinct conceptual approach to dance, as well as for her broad range as a performer and depth of knowledge as an educator. Recently a Visiting Professor at Mills College, her work is consistently driven by an interest in our collective relationship to site and place, and explores the conceptual boundaries shared by movement/dance and visual art/objects. At its core, her work poses a series of civic questions about how we live where we live. Johnson has been awarded residencies at Yaddo, the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and Caldera to further these interests.
Since creating her first site-based, large-scale interdisciplinary performance event in 1992, Finding the Forest, her work has continued to be marked by its relationship to real or imagined/constructed spaces, and by its unique co-mingling of choreographic and installation methods. Built around a movement sensibility that is the result of experimentation and an on-going study of multiple dance techniques and alternative vocabularies, her work is additionally inspired by current practices in horticulture, landscape architecture, visual art and urban planning. With a growing body of creative projects, she has been the recipient of numerous grants, commissions and private sponsorships to support her work, including a 1999 Oregon Arts Commission Individual Artist Fellowship, and site-based commissions from ORLO, Reed College, American Society of Landscape Architects, Third Angle New Music Ensemble, The Art Gym at Marylhurst College, and Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC). Her projects have been presented in Portland, Seattle, Corvallis, Eugene, San Francisco, Oakland and New York City, and her installations have been mounted at American Institute of Architects Gallery in Portland (2000); PNCA’s Feldman Gallery (1999); Lewis & Clark College (2000); and The Art Gym (2011). In the spring of 2000, RACC purchased two images from her performative photographic essay addressing the Urban Growth Boundary, The View From Here, for its Visual Chronicles collection. Her 2001 public art commission, Tax Lot #1S1E4ODD, was the subject of a radio documentary made for NPR’s Living on Earth, which aired nationally for several months in 2002. Her recent site-based projects include Layers of Location, a collaboration with architect Martin Houston that addresses issues of gentrification in Portland; a lunch time, a commission for the Keller Fountain; development of an innovative Artist in Residence Program for the South Waterfront neighborhood in Portland; and The City Dance of Lawrence and Anna Halprin, a groundbreaking mixed-media performance collaboration that received the Masters in the Arts grant from the NEA for 2008.
Deeply committed to the training and education of the next generation of contemporary artists, she has taught extensively in public schools, private studios, and colleges throughout the region for 20 years. These schools include but are not limited to Mills College, Reed College, Lewis & Clark College, University of Oregon, Portland State University, and Jefferson High School. In many of these institutions, she has formally authored innovative approaches to curriculum and assessment; developed and implemented mission statements; held significant administrative duties; managed large budgets; and assisted in the restructuring of entire school environments. From 1992-96, she served as one of five teaching artists on the concept team to develop the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics, an aesthetically focused public school where the arts are at the center of all curriculum and instruction. In the fall of 2000, she was hired by Oregon Ballet Theatre as its Director of Education and Outreach, and for five years was responsible for the company’s activities that addressed educating the community about the value of dance in a dynamic urban culture. Johnson lectures frequently about her work and the early roots of post-modern dance at colleges, conservatories and conferences around the country. Her own studies have taken her around the U.S. and to Europe, where she has worked with many of the artists currently influencing contemporary performance practice. Her interest in the roots of post-modern dance brought her to New York City in 1999 and again in 2002 to learn the seminal post-modern work, Trio A, by Yvonne Rainer. After working directly with Ms. Rainer, Johnson was honored to be designated as one of only three international custodian/repetiteurs of this work, with the rights and responsibilities to teach and perform Trio A in perpetuity. A significant fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission 1999, as well as guest artist residency at Reed College in Portland, OR in 2003, made this research possible. Having studied extensively with internationally significant choreographer Bebe Miller, Johnson similarly holds the rights to perform Miller’s acclaimed solo, Rain.
In addition to her own creative work, Johnson has collaborated or worked extensively with many other regionally and nationally significant performing and visual artists including Kristy Edmunds, Shelley Senter, Christopher Rauschenberg, Ron Blessinger/Third Angle New Music Ensemble, James Lavadour, Mary Oslund, Glen Moore, Randy Gragg, Bill Will, James Canfield, Dana Lynn Louis, Susan Seubert, Rhiza A+D, Vanessa Renwick, Courtney Von Drehle, Karen Nelson, Seth Nehil, Linda Austin, Cydney Wilkes, Linda Wysong, Gregg Bielemeier, Laura Ross-Paul, Jann Dryer, Bonnie Merrill, and Tim DuRoche, among others.
Johnson has distinguished herself as an advocate for dance and the arts in the community and region. Seen as a leader by both her colleagues and the city’s cultural institutions, she is regularly asked to participate in gatherings addressing the future of arts education, funding and institutional growth. Determined to make Portland a city where artists can live and work affordably, she has twice initiated and directed the creation of studio spaces for dance artists. In 1993, she opened Coil, a rehearsal space dedicated solely to the development of new choreographic work. Soon out-grown, she then collaborated with colleagues to create Conduit. Offering daily technique classes, studio performance opportunities and rehearsal space, Conduit has since become the hub of contemporary dance activity within the state. Johnson has also served on numerous award panels for the allocation of grants and fellowships for artists and arts organizations, and continues to be employed as an artist-consultant by schools and arts organizations to assist them with new program development.