The work of Nitashia Johnson, a graphics designer in the Office of Communications and a graduate student in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication, is represented in a photo essay published June 19 in The New York Times.
In “Sources of Self-Regard: Self-Portraits From Black Photographers Reflecting on America,” essayist Debra Willis describes the photos as “deeply insightful storytelling” that express identity in a time of global pandemic, unemployment and protests to end police brutality.
Johnson was invited to submit photos by Times staff whom she had met during Sony Corp.’s six-month Alpha Female Creator-in-Residence Program in 2019 when she had exhibits in New York and Los Angeles.
“I’ve crossed paths with many people this past year. I believe those connections are what made this happen,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she selected photos that represent her documentation of the ways in which she was able to amplify Black voices as an artist and also to find rest and peace during the COVID-19 pandemic and recent racial protests.
“I didn’t want to go the commercial route and pick photos that were polished. These photos spoke to the core of human identity and emotions. They’re black-and-white images that show the loneliness we feel right now but that still include a sense of peace and healing,” she said.
Johnson, who is working on a Master of Fine Arts in creative practice, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Texas Woman’s University and a Master of Fine Arts from Rhode Island School of Design. She is the creator of “The Self Publication,” a photographic book series that combats stereotypes of the Black community. She also teaches part time at One River School of Art + Design in Frisco, Texas, and is building a startup called The Smart Project, an after-school program for North Texas teens in need of creative workshops.