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Waldorf College Art Gallery features work by local artist and alumna

Waldorf College
Forest City, Iowa – Local artist Sonja Johnson finds inspiration in the world around her. Paintings of farm animals make up her show Impulse and Remembrance, opening this week in the Waldorf College Art Gallery. An artist reception will be held on Thursday, September 12, from 6 to 8 p.m., with Johnson speaking at 7 p.m.

An Iowa native, Johnson has been surrounded by farm animals for most of her life. She grew up on a dairy farm in the north central part of the state and once kept an artist studio above a veterinary clinic in Gowrie, Iowa.

“In regard to the animal subjects, I do feel a connection,” Johnson explains in her artist statement. “There is motion, instinct, remembrance, and experience. Did I choose them? No, I insist that they chose me.”

Johnson begins her process by looking at photographs and exploring color combinations, light, and value. “I try to think in terms of temperature, warm colors coming forward and the cooler tones receding,” she explains. “By the middle stage, a lot of color is used, thick and thin layers of paint.” Towards the end, two or three main colors are chosen for the painting. “I try to express what I feel rather than what I know,” she concludes.

“What is amazing about Sonja’s work is that she is able to capture the personality of each animal with her use of color and loose brushwork,” said Dean Swenson, Waldorf’s Art Gallery director and instructor of art.

A Waldorf graduate, Johnson saw the college as her gateway to the world. “My experiences at Waldorf College helped me grow in self confidence and encouraged me to pursue my lifelong passion of art,” she states in her biography.

Johnson went on to earn a bachelors degree in art and education from the University of Iowa and was an art instructor in public schools for 10 years. She currently resides in Thompson, Iowa.

Impulse and Remembrance is open to the public in the Waldorf College Art Gallery through October 11. There is no charge for admission.