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In the early 1990s, Brian Johnson moved from El Paso, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona. Here, in the Sonoran Desert, he found the inspiration that informs his artwork.
Using the iconic saguaro cactus, he assembles locally sourced dried cactus skeletons. With a combination of natural woven cotton fiber ropes, copper accents – often with a turquoise stone focal point – Johnson creates works of art intended to exemplify the finery, symbolism and cultural customs of Native American Indians.
“I explain my Shamans as being spirits of Native American warriors in the desert,” he explains. “They speak to me.” Johnson credits the ease of his inspiration and creativity in part to the fact that his mother is in the Blackfoot Indian bloodline.
Understanding that it takes a saguaro 75 – 100 years to grow an arm, Johnson sees and senses that each skeleton is different – with its own special story to tell. Johnson tells the story well. Each finished piece is steeped in history and commands respect; like the desert itself, the Shaman’s are unique, majestic, and colorful.
For a more contemporary look, he also creates woven rope wall hangings and 3-D metal pieces in a more geometrical design. Brian Johnson’s original wall sculptures range in size: 2’ x 3’ up to 5’ x 8’.
Courtesy to the Trade is offered; custom collaborations are welcome.