Artist Spotlight: Elena Johnston
Collaging is typically thought of as more craft than art — something teenage girls do with old magazines. To be fair, Elena Johnston’s art is about as technical as your teeny bopper collage of Justin Timberlake. She simply pieces together colored paper, but somehow it resembles high art. She is channeling Matisse’s paper cut-outs in a contemporary way, proving that collaging is not just child’s play. In fact, it’s some serious stuff.
Like Matisse, Elena is first and foremost a painter who put down her easel to experiment with paper. Using fantastic pastel colors and unusual shapes, Elena juxtaposes texture and pigment in a fascinating way. Her unusual paper constructions become — as a whole — wonderful. Shades of pink, blue, and yellow coexist harmoniously. Elena makes the fragile paper material seem powerful and dynamic. Instead of cutting out bits of paper, she adds together bits that one might assume would clash, but somehow fit together beautifully.
Elena is a Maryland Institute College of Art graduate who lives and works in Baltimore. She was commissioned by fellow Baltimore citizens and popular indie band Beach House for merchandise design during their Teen Dream tour, as well as the band Future Islands for their album artwork. For more information about Elena, visit her website.