Steven Anthony Johnson II


I draw intimate scenes in an effort to reframe the way we talk about Blackness. Through strokes of charcoal and graphite, I make Blackness and darkness the protagonist. In this manner I shift the paradigm which considers whiteness/ light the dominant formal aspect across paper. Working from memory, interviews, verbal histories, and family keepsakes, I navigate a cross-generational, cross-cultural, and cross-diasporic hypothesis of what I would say to a biological child of mine—unbesmirched by the colonized imagination. Some of these materials are fragmented or damaged, told secondhand, or else gleaned from painful memories half-remembered; others are passed down by elders to metabolize inherited trauma. I then transmogrify these artifacts into a visual love letter to possible inheritors of that trauma. Channeling intergenerational resistance, wisdom, and resilience, my drawings and activities explore the counter-narrative necessary to eclipse the burden of inherited and bestowed trauma central to Black and Othered bodies. In other words, my drawings transform histories, artifacts, spatially dependent histories, and biographical fragments into tactile, metabolic renderings of an inward reflective state.


Steven is a draftsman, writer, and photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. They received their MFA in 2017 from the New York Academy of Art. Utilizing the language of drawing, animation, and contemporary printing processes, their work attempts to make peace between the religious, intellectual, and humanistic ideals in relation to “Otherness”. Their drawings utilize traditional techniques with abstracted senses of temperature and value to achieve a modern sense of realism devoid of a colonized imagination.