Reflections on Existence – New Works by Sonja Johnson

Opening Reception: Friday, July 31, 2020 5:30-7:00 PM
The Exhibit continues through August 17, 2020

The RFA will host a reception for the work of artist Sonja Johnson at the Lakeside Contemporary Art Gallery, located in the lobby of the RFA Lakeside Theater, on Friday, July 31, from 5:30 – 7:00 PM. Enjoy cash bar (beer/wine) and meet the artist.  Social distancing will be observed, and masks and hand sanitizer will be provided.

This event is sponsored in part by Oquossoc Grocery  

“I was invited last year to exhibit in the summer artist series for the Rangeley Friends of the Arts and pleasantly surprised to be invited back again this year.  As an artist, it is with a bit of anxiety and excitement that I create and put myself in front of an audience for their contemplation and hopeful appreciation of my thoughts and process.  I struggle to find the balance between financial security and appeasing the desire to express yourself visually. I have always heard that with age comes wisdom and this is how I approach my work these days, with the wisdom to know that time is a gift. If I let fear and anxiety about how I will be received hold me back, that time will slip away. No-one will ever know those thoughts and visions that I kept hidden away for the “perfect” time, materials, day, etc.

The past few months I was able to dig into those visual resources to process this crazy world I was living in.  Some days I would return to patterns that brought me comfort like the flowers from my grandmother’s apron I loved as a child or the wallpaper from my bedroom I shared with my sister, or even the simplicity of the cloud formations from a blue-bird summer day.  These memories and moments provided some normalcy and connection to the life I knew as I was experiencing a new foreign future.  Some of my work became connected to the futuristic thoughts from childhood like spaceships, planets and new life forms, and other days I returned to looking closely at past work and giving it a new voice or life to help me put these pieces back together again and give me strength to face the unknown. The ability to create gave me the courage and security to forge ahead knowing there are creative minds and thoughtful humans who are going to get us through this difficult time.  I hope my work serves as a record of sorts for this time in history when our hearts were heavy with the need to be near loved ones, our minds were full of fear and uncertainty and our bodies tried to understand the new “normal” but really just wanted a hug. I hope the lines, colors, prints, patterns and contemplation can stir a memory, hope, fear, desire in you to re-think some of your past as you gather the strength to face your “new” future with wisdom.”


I have spent most of my life encouraging artists, young and old, to step out of their comfort zone and trust me to teach them how to express themselves visually. In all those years I have kept sketchbooks filled with ideas and techniques I have shared with my learners for the day when I would have the time to create for myself.
This past winter that day came.  On one of those grey endless days in February when I was feeling particularly color deprived, I pulled out those sketchbooks and released my scribbled sketches and ideas. I brought my thoughts all together to put my preaching into practice.  I have always felt one of my strengths was as a designer.  I love moving parts of a composition around until the moment the image reveals itself and there really is no other way to compose the work that appeases me visually.  I chose to focus on pattern, color, shape and space and not concern myself with recognizable subjects.  I purposely allowed myself to JUST create.  I didn’t concern myself with how the work would be received or for a particular audience. My only goal was to trust myself, as I had been teaching art for close to 30 years, I thought it was time to allow myself the sheer joy of the creative process.  My hope is that viewers of my work will feel that joy as they spend time with my work.  It is light-hearted, whimsical and most of all happy.