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Jeanette Johns | To Step is to Rise


Opening reception: Friday | January 6 | 6-9 pm

Artist in attendance

Lisa Kehler Art + Projects is proud to announce Jeanette John’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. To step is to rise is a collection of new drawings and prints addressing the role that our bodies play in our experience of space. For Johns, perception is not just observation and deduction, it is also the result of a pre-programmed set of assumptions and limits.

 Through three key subjects; the moon, train tracks, and stairs, Johns explores optical illusions, and the body’s natural inclination to make sense of them. Johns states, “Our bodies have evolved to work with the specific environment of Earth. The ability to see depth of space in a flat drawing is evidence that our eyes so badly want to see gravity, volume and distance at work that they can be tricked by a simple optical illusion.”

Initially employing an analytical approach, she has become well-recognized for merging mathematic and scientific understandings with creative observations, all in the search for a poetic result. To step is to rise marks a return to drafting with a series of 8 pairs of graphite drawings of staircases of different heights and widths.  Each pair is made up of a “pictorial view” in a parallel perspective which shows the object as it would appear in 3D, and a “multi-view”, which shows the object as seen from different positions.  The drawings use certain conventions from the visual language of technical drawing. The proportions of each staircase are based on the height of the most climbed mountains in the world.  The height of the stairs is in relation to the elevation of the top of the mountain and the width of the stairs is in relation to the amount of people that climb to the top of that mountain each year.

A second series in the exhibition is Right Side Up- a montage of 16 works, each 12 x 12 inches. Using an image of the moon taken by NASA and pairing it with an early image of a staircase given to MC Escher, Johns illuminates how significant orientation is to interpretation.

The remaining series deal with the effect that context places in mediating our understanding of what we are seeing. Using Joseph Albers’ theories from his book The Interaction of Colour, images of the earth and moon are manipulated, ultimately altering convex with concave, and light with dark.

The exhibition will open to the public on Friday, January 6, from 6-9 pm and will run until February 4. The artist will be in attendance. An interview with Winnipeg-based artist, Andrew Lodwick accompanies the exhibition and is available on the gallery website. For additional information, please contact the gallery via email at, or by telephone (204)510-0088.


Jeanette Johns is a Montreal-based artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her practice is rooted in the act of observation and the experience of looking with a particular interest in two-dimensional representations of space.

Fascinated by the subject of landscape, she uses both empirical and theoretical knowledge to consider its intersection with attributes of mathematics, patterning and geometry. As an artist her compulsion is to articulate the relationship between observation and its aesthetic experience by constructing and layering the imagery of maps, diagrams, and graphs, focusing on their two-dimensional plane geometric patterns.

Johns has taken part in exhibitions and residencies across Canada and internationally. She is the recipient of many awards and grants, including a SSHRC Graduate Scholarship. She holds a BFA Honours from the University of Manitoba and completed her MFA at Concordia University in Montreal in 2015. Her work is in both public and private collections, including the TD Bank, the Province of Manitoba, and the National Gallery of Canada.

Earlier Event: November 25
Suzie Smith | one thing, then another
Later Event: January 10
Art Los Angeles Contemporary