Willard Johnson

Willard Johnson

Philadelphia, PA, United States

About Willard Johnson

Born in Chicago, 1941, moved to Kansas City in 1951, came to Philadelphia in 1964 on a Vespa 150 motor scooter, and never left. I'm a visual artist, anarchist, poet, novelist and Street Medic. I write under the name, Jacob Russell.

I find in Deleuze & Guttari's, A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, a confirmation in language and ideas, of what I do in my art. There are so many visual metaphors: rhizomes, captures, lines of flight...in one sense, all my work is about--asignifying ruptures. escape from the closed territories of capitalism and the search for a place where it's possible to imagine a new world.


My mother, uncle and sister were artists. My first art class (for children) was at the Chicago Art Institute when I was 6. I've studied at the Kansas City Art Institute, taken classes at the Nelson-Atkins Gallery in Kansas City, and briefly majored in art at Wichita State University, before coming to Philly, where I made pottery until 1980. After a detour of some 30 years, I returned to my first love in July of 2012 and title my work with numbers dating from that time.


I've shown my work and am a member of the da Vinci Art Association, and A-Space Anarchist Collective, in juried shows at the Plastic Club, International House, 3rd Street Gallery, and most recently, at William Way annual, and as invited artist for Stonewall@50, memorial exhibition for the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising.