Surel’s Place welcomed Clare Johnson as Artist-in-Residence for the month of August in 2019. Clare Johnson is a visual artist and writer, originally from Seattle. For her writing, Johnson has received the Michael S. Harper Poetry Prize, June Dodge Fellowship at Mineral School and a Jack Straw Fellowship. Publications include Poetry Northwest, Shake The Tree, Raven Chronicles, cover art for two books, and authoring DK Publishing’s 2017 book How to Draw (Penguin Random House).
Her art exhibitions include Guy’s Hospital in London, where her 35-drawing project about childhood asthma is permanently displayed. Other major projects include Drawing from Literature (a growing series of art inspired by favorite books), for which she received an Artist Trust grant and her first Surel’s Place residency; Roses, a 2014 book pairing her set of 27 drawings with poems by Rainer Maria Rilke; and a 2017 production of Our Town combining handmade drawings, painting, and erasure poems written from Thornton Wilder’s script into gesture-responsive animations on a giant 360-degree screen-wrapping around the audience.
Her ongoing Post-it Note Project (drawing and writing on a post-it note every night to remember something from the day) has featured in Real Change, Seattle Weekly and Seattle Magazine. The Seattle Review of Books posts weekly excerpts from the over 4,000 post-its she’s made so far, also publishing her monthly series of essays exploring themes behind the art. As a teacher, she founded creative writing classes at London’s Lauderdale House and at Cambridge University Kettle’s Yard, also teaching at Momentum Arts in Cambridge, and Hugo House and Thrive Art School in Seattle. Other honors include winning grand prize in Allied Arts Foundation’s Emerging Artist Awards, and designing a participatory public art project on a dumpster for a Seattle affordable housing group.
Clare led a writing workshop showing attendees how to use unexpected aspects of our surroundings at Surel’s Place to generate your own writing ideas. The experience included writing prompts using art, art books, music, photographs, the space’s history and even its architecture as jumping-off points. We also explored how to apply these approaches anywhere in your writing.