A leader recognizes opportunities when they arise and isn’t afraid of risks. Angela Johnson (LGM20) has certainly learned those lessons during the upheavals caused by the pandemic. In fact, the pandemic prompted Angela to take one of the biggest risks of her career — starting a business.
“It was a really big pivot, but the pandemic gave me the guts to do what I always wanted to do. It was a good choice.”
Angela is a professional artist and educator whose leadership journey has been almost as varied as her career.
Angela knew she wanted to be a teacher since the 2nd grade and eventually became an elementary art teacher. After several years teaching, she landed at the Madison Children’s Museum and says she “wanted it to be a museum no one outgrows.” And that meant a museum for more than children alone. While at the Madison Children’s Museum, she worked with the Spark program which is arts programming for adults with memory loss. More than 100 local artists were brought in to the museum to create art. She says the experience was multi-generational and illustrated the discovery, joy and creation of art.
Angela says that the pandemic helped people realize the importance of art and creativity in their lives. But art is more than self-expression and creativity; it helps people problem solve and explore ideas from various perspectives. Those are lessons for leadership as well. Angela commits herself to helping creators grow from learners to leaders. She does this, in part, through her small business Angela Johnson Artist where she not only creates personalized commissioned work, but provides creativity coaching. She says creativity coaching is about asking powerful questions, getting unstuck and even learning how to deal with things like deadlines. Her business is the perfect example of recognizing opportunities and taking risks.
During a conversation with LGM Program Director Lynn Wood (LGM12) and Maggie Waid (LGM28) on the Lead from Where You Are podcast, Angela explains how the humanities and art not only add a richness to everyday life, but bolster mental health and can help people move beyond barriers and successfully solve problems.
Angela Johnson is a professional artist, creativity coach and educator based in Madison. She earned a master’s in Art Education, an MA in Art and an MFA with a focus in photography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her areas of artistic expertise include: art journaling, alternative photo processes, bookmaking and box making, creativity coaching, customizable legacy boxes, and installation art.
Her work includes themes of nature, balance, and telling stories through individual and collective memories. She often incorporates scientific elements and concepts into her work. Collaborations with other artists and scientists energizes her creativity.
Angela is a fixture in the Wisconsin arts scene, with 20+ years of experience maintaining public art studios, teaching workshops, facilitating programs, leading public art installations and lecturing at universities. She has worked in museums, elementary schools, senior centers, colleges and universities. She has inspired and helped people of every age — from toddlers to 95-year-olds — reaching far into the depths of their imagination to discover and channel their creativity. She also teaches workshops on mindfulness and yoga.
She and her artist husband, Justin, recently purchased a 137-year-old home. They are finding great joy in making it their own and setting up their studio spaces.
To find out more about Angela, her art and her business, go to angelajohnsonartist.