Kenneth Johnson [Muscogee/Seminole] is a contemporary Native American designer and accomplished metalsmith working in copper, silver, gold, platinum and palladium. His career spans over two decades and is recognized for bold combinations of stampwork and engraving often incorporating coins and bead set gemstones. Signature techniques include original dates of coins visible in the designs, Seminole patchwork patterns, rocker arm engraving and Southeast style concentric line designs.
Examples of Johnson’s design and technical proficiency are often
displayed using the canvas of crescent shaped gorgets and wide cuff bracelets.
His work is complemented by a constant pursuit of creative innovation in the
use of precious metals. His signature style of contemporary jewelry incorporates
Southeastern motifs and the melding of old and new methods and techniques.
His elaborate and ornate gorgets (multi-tiered crescent shaped necklaces) with
ancient “Moundbuilder” symbols
and 19th century Seminole patchwork designs overlaid with coins illustrate his
propensity for complexity and detail.
Johnson was raised in Oklahoma and currently resides with his wife and 2 children in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the son of Rowena Johnson and grandson of the late Lucinda Walkingstick/Bruner of Oakhurst, Oklahoma. Johnson attended Seneca Indian School, Sequoyah High School and the University of Oklahoma, where he studied mechanical engineering.
He began creating jewelry in 1988, when he apprenticed with Choctaw metalsmith Johnson Bobb, and has independently refined his skills to the level of expertise that he is known for today. Johnson currently integrates state of the art CAD/CAM technology into his design process to continue his evolution as a Native metalsmith.
Johnson’s career achievements include a one man show at the Creek Council House Museum in June of 2007, the 2005 Santa Fe Indian Market’s “Most Creative Use Of Stampwork” Standards Jewelry award, the 2003 Red Earth “Best of Show”, the 2003 Creek Council House Museum Featured Artist, the 2001 Tulsa Indian Art Festival’s Featured Artist, the 1999 Smithsonian Museum/NMAI’s Artist-in-Residence and a 1997 Santa Fe Indian Market Artist Fellowship, among others.
Johnson’s professional service includes teaching jewelry workshops for the Creek Council House Museum, judging art competitions for the Red Earth Festival (OK), Eight Northern Pueblo’s Arts & Craft Show (NM) and Lawrence Indian Art Show (KS); Hotel Washington Art show organizer, during the Smithsonian’s NMAI opening; panelist for NMAI/Smithsonian fellowship selection committee; SWAIA board of directors Co-chair; and Council of Artists chair where he represented the interests of over 1000 artists to that board. Additionally, he served as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington, D.C. in 2006.Johnson’s work in his one man show at the Creek Council House museum in June of 2007featured over 200 unique pieces gathered from collectors around the world displaying Johnson’s technical and artistic progression over his career.
“Metal is the canvas where symbols and stones provide narrative to express my understanding of this world. The designs I use are the portals to display elements of my technical, aesthetic and cultural experience.”