My mother has Native American Indian origins and I feel a strong affinity to this culture. In this connection, I have found my spiritual totem in the saguaro cactus – each having a different shape – each having a different story to tell. With each work, I find that I am innately able to envision and create what I want to see when I’m done. Within each work, the saguaros and the shamans speak.
In the early 1990s, Brian Johnson moved from El Paso, Texas to Phoenix, Arizona.
Here, in the Sonoran Desert, he found the inspiration that informs his artwork.
Shaman is the title that Johnson gives to his series of one-of-a-kind 3-D hanging wall sculptures which are intended to evoke the spirits of Native American Indian warriors.
Using locally sourced dried saguaro cactus skeletons as the framework, Johnson weaves and braids natural or hand-dyed cotton fiber – sometimes with leather – to dress the piece in a mantle reminiscent of a Native American Indian tribal breastplate. Natural stones serve as a focal point and hand-cut copper feathers serve as amulet and/or crown.
Shaman sculptures range from 3’ x 2’ to 8’ x 5’ and take about 25-30 hours to create. Working with the saguaro cactus is Johnson’s favored medium; he also creates mixed metal 3-D wall hangings.