Tsehai Johnson

Artist Statement

Tsehai Johnson is a Colorado based artist whose interests explore the boundaries between public and private life. Driving this inquiry are several converging interests, from the clash between fantasy’s perfection and the messiness of reality, the close juxtaposition of labor and pleasure in domestic space, and finally an exploration of how the logic and organizing principles of everyday objects reveal the very mutability of life. The domestic objects and daily events that serve as initial influence for her work are not independent of time and situation and thus belong to the mundane moments of daily life. These fluid moments reveal varied actions, drifting meanings, attachments and situations. Johnson’s work nudges us to inhabit each living moment with more esthetic attentiveness and to find the poetic potential in daily events and interactions.


Tsehai Johnson is a Colorado based artist whose interests explore the boundaries between public and private life. Her performative events and installations encourage reflection on the tension between order and function as expressed through the objects that populate our lives. Making porcelain objects, interactive installations, and mixed-media wall pieces, she utilizes dense ornamentation and everyday objects to explore quotidian realities of human existence.

Born in Ethiopia in 1966, Tsehai Johnson received an Bachelors of Arts degree in art history from Reed College in 1989, a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in ceramics from Massachusetts College of Art in 1993, and a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Colorado in 1999. Exhibitions include the Milwaukee Art Museum (Wisconsin), Plus Gallery (Colorado), Denver Art Museum (Colorado), Biennale Internationale de Vallauris, Magnelli Museum (France), White Columns (New York City, NY), Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (Colorado), and the World Ceramic Biennale (Korea). Collections include the Museum of Ceramics (New York), Museum of Outdoor Arts (Colorado), and the Reyzjanesbaer Art Museum, (Iceland). She is the recipient of a Colorado Council of the Arts Fellowship and residencies in Germany, Spain, Iceland and at Platteforum in Denver, Colorado. In 2013 Johnson completed an Art in Architecture Commission for the Byron Rogers Federal Building in Denver, CO.

She lives with her husband and two children in Denver, Colorado and is an Assistant Professor in the Art Department at Metropolitan State University of Denver.