Sargent Johnson (1887-1967) was a talented artist–painter, sculptor, and lithographer–known for abstract and early modern styles. Born in 1887, he was the son of Anderson Johnson who was of Swedish descent, and Lizzie Jackson, who was African-American and Cherokee. He started his art training at thirty-two at the California School of Fine Arts. There, he won several prizes which would be the first of many more to come. In 1926, he started showing his work at the Harmon Foundation. Johnson “worked with assurance in media ranging from carved wood to watercolor and metal, though his humanistic themes increasingly put him out of step with Bay Area art after 1950. Johnson took part in the Federal Arts Project and received local commissions that included church murals and the still extant decoration of a relief sculpture on a vast outdoor wall behind San Francisco’s Washington High School. Johnson taught briefly at Mills College but remained committed to his own art above all else,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Johnson died of a heart attack in San Francisco in 1967 at the age of eighty. More information about his art and life can be found here.
On being mixed, Johnson said: “I had a tough time in the early days. They didn’t give me much of a chance. They didn’t know who I was, but I had made up my mind that I was going to be an artist.”-Heidi Durrow
Mixed Experience History Month is the annual blog post series created by The New York Times best-selling author Heidi Durrow celebrating the history of the Mixed experience. Established in 2007, Mixed Experience History Month is an effort to highlight the long history of folks and events involved in the Mixed experience. Please look for archived profiles of people, places and events of the Mixed experience every weekday of May at Lightskinned-ed Girl, the blog! Thanks for reading. And check out some of the previous year’s profiles: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014. Copyright 2015.