Mama Johnson

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The reason Eurelia Johnson is called "Mama" is simple: when you meet Mama Johnson you are sure you’re meeting your second mother.

Her house itself is an art environment worthy of a museum. Every surface is covered with objects made from recycled just-about-everything. Birds and flowers cut from the green or white styrofoam that fruit and vegetables come in; a bird house made with packaging from a VCR, the birds once pieces of a yellow foam mattress, the flowers round cut-out bottoms from an egg carton; a family of baby dolls made from painted detergent, soap, and bleach bottles; an assemblage of almost-naked Barbie dolls floating on a sea of glitter; a smiling-faced woman made of a stuffed surgical glove, drawn with whimsical magic markers.

Why does she do this? "The Lord told me to!"

Although she started painting on objects she recycled--a single red bird comes to life on a former serving tray, a family of aliens inhabit a slab of black wood that once fit in a book shelf, an African queen and king smile inside a frame that previously held an electric Jesus--she now uses more conventional material, like a drawing pad. The results are every bit as magical.

Copyright 1999 Jeffrey Knapp and Tamara Hendershot.