Social Justice Artist
Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist/photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, often explores urban segregation and documents the nuance and richness of the black community. As a trained photojournalist and teaching artist, she has been engaged in building an artistic legacy that gained citywide recognition in the last two years. She was featured in Chicago Magazine as a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year for her photography of Englewood’s everyday beauty, countering its pervasive media coverage of poverty and crime. Her Englewood-based photography projects “From the INside,” and “Everyday Rituals,” were exhibited at Rootwork Gallery in Pilsen, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Harold Washington Library Center and at Loyola University’s Museum of Art (LUMA). Her current ongoing project, Folded Map, visually investigates disparities among Chicago residents while bringing them together to have a conversation, was also exhibited at LUMA last year. She transformed this project into an advocacy and policy-influencing tool that invites audiences to open a dialogue and question how we are all socially impacted by racial and institutional conditions that segregate the city. In 2019, she was named one of Field Foundation’s Leaders for a New Chicago and most recently, she was appointed as a member of the Cultural Advisory Council of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events by the Chicago City Council.