Johanna Finnegan-Topitzer


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The natural world and how humans have perceived it are themes that run through my work. I am fascinated by the folklore and mythology of cultures around the world, especially as it relates to animals. In our human history and oral tales there is much respect for our fellow creatures, but this does not always play out in how we treat them. With my art, I hope to rekindle that sense of awe and respect for other living beings and hope we humans can turn around our destructive nature to enable all life to survive on this planet.

My creative process involves exploring in nature and taking reference photos. I then come back to my studio and start with simple sketches. I paint my animals with gouache which allows me to get subtle details. I use cut colored paper to create plants and landscape elements and define their details with pen. All these components are made separately and then adhered to a solid color background.

I grew up on the Northshore of Massachusetts but have lived many places. Whether I was living in the Rockies of Colorado, the green fields of Ireland, the tropical island of Taiwan, or the beautiful Northeast of the U.S., I have always been inspired by the wildlife that has surrounded me. But above all, I am a New England artist as this is my home.

My art has developed and grown since I was a kid. I took formal classes at the University of New Hampshire. I went on to receive a Master's degree in Folklore from University College Cork in Ireland. I studied the fine craft of bookbinding at the North Bennet Street School in Boston. I have used my artistic skill to create educational materials and exhibits in many of my "day jobs". At this point in my career, I am focused on illustration for stationery products, surface design, and children's books.
I have been the Artist-in-Residence at the Grand Canyon and Acadia National Parks and received Artist Fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and Somerville Arts Council.

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