Emily Johnson’s Artistry Illuminates the Stage

Apr 16, 2013

Emily Johnson’s creations are both raw and organic. Her unique work involves the interaction of audiences within and through a space and the environment. Her performance installations vividly capture sights, sounds, and smells making for appealing and collaborative productions. The upcoming performance by Emily Johnson/Catalyst (presented in partnership with The O’Shaughnessy at St. Catherine University) will be ornamented with glowing lanterns suspended above The O’Shaughnessy stage. Volunteers in Minneapolis, Vermont, Alaska, and California sewed these beautiful lanterns, made of salmon skin. The lanterns function as light fixtures as well as speakers for Niicugni’s installation soundtrack.

You might be wondering why Emily incorporated hand-sewn fish-skin lanterns into her choreography. Well, according to her essay "Salmon Brings Us Together" on her website, as a native Alaskan, Emily grew up watching, catching, disentangling, preparing, and eating salmon. One day, as she walked along Bishop Beach in Homer, Alaska, her creative mind swarmed with visuals of these salmon lanterns. She imagined them decorating her stage lit with flickering, golden flames. An exhibit she had seen in Alaska a year before called Skin Sisters at Bunnell Street Gallery featuring artwork made of fish skin inspired Emily to create the unique lanterns she had envisioned. Emily describes what she saw as “amazing visual work.”

The amazing process in constructing these textured lanterns required a great amount of physical labor. Watch a video of Emily Johnson making a fish skin lantern.

Emily Johnson’s work, Niicugni, captures collaboration and human connections through the creation and inclusion of the radiant fish lanterns. Join me in experiencing the life and beauty in the intimate presentation of Niicugni by Emily Johnson/Catalyst at The O’Shaughnessy on Sun, Apr 21, 7:00 pm. Emily Johnson’s creativity will illuminate The O’Shaughnessy stage. Literally.

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