Heidi Johnson & Leslie Sheryll : Bird/Houses

Strange bedfellows or close friends?
Adjoining the work of these two artists in an exhibition relationship releases new meanings neither achieves alone.

From Heidi Johnson’s statement:

“For the past decade and beyond, I have been interested in articulating temporality as we experience it, very personally, our individual moments of  emotional crystallization. Inspired by the many temporal existences illustrated naturalistically in Dutch Still Life and working with a combination of disparate imagery that combines elements of the natural  world, I draw inspiration by working  through the conceptual and temporal lens of Dutch Still Life, where species from different continents meet on the same plane and blooms bloom together out of season, and time flattens. My work references multifarious art historical sources and temporality becomes fluid with abstract and figurative references coexisting.


I am very interested in transitory symbolism and how an image’s meaning changes over time and contexts. In my work, I have a desire to to make pictures that, although using figurative imagery, defy the subject/predicate narrative. I narrow down and select images that atmospherically and symbolically make the space and subject of the paintings. The areas between layers at once spread out and flatten. I am very interested in articulating this way of understanding.” – Heidi Johnson


From Leslie Sheryll’s statement:

I began documenting houses around Jersey City with no thought as to where it might lead me. I love architecture and it saddened me to see so many once-proud but modest 19th-century homes turned into architectural nightmares due to lack of funds, fast fixes, aluminum siding, and indifference to heritage and design.  Once the pandemic hit the project took me in a new direction. It dawned on me that these homes were a perfect metaphor for what we were all going through physically and emotionally. “Home” traditionally represents both safety and community, something we are now denied. We now face forced isolation and as a result, we are experiencing feelings of being disconnected. Additionally,  the political polarization and turmoil we are experiencing add another layer of separation.


In my images, I use color as spatial dividers. I intentionally “block” out the ubiquitous automobile, which further isolates. Technology and wires everywhere make communication a virtual rather than a real experience.  The titles of each image further isolate us.  In an effort to inspire hope for the future I do show a bit of the “real” in each image, you just have to look for it.


From our curator, Ellen Martin:

Each of these artists individually has produced work with a strong point a view. By bringing them together in a dialogue I wanted something new to emerge. This is my job as curator. Neither artist knew at the outset what I had in mind although it was clear to me. Heidi’s images are lush and full of symbols and incongruities in time; Leslie’s images of houses are stark and simple but play with pre-pandemic and pandemic times. Time exists in a flat plane for both of them.


In the juxtaposition above, there are obvious similarities in color and architectural elements, but then you start to wonder if that magnificently haughty peacock’s room is in that house. The aloneness and stillness of each image is clear.


Exhibit Information:

The exhibit is currently on display and always open. Please come and experience more of the work for yourself.


There will be a live reception on Friday, May 21st, 2021 from 6 – 8 p.m. The artists and curator will be present. It’s free and open to the public. There is free parking and valet service will be available.


The exhibit will run through Monday, July 5th, 2021