Meet the Artist: Mutópe Johnson

Mutópe has a rich and diverse background in visual arts. His current research and visual arts practice has led him to consider his role as an artist and how the arts can help shape the current state of African American culture and its rich history. His professional background has included positions in graphic design, advertising and marketing communications firms. He received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Peck School of Art & Design at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and he is currently a professor of art and design at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwakee: This painting is a visual representation of a relationship between a big brother and his little sister, who stand at a crossroad. We wonder not only who they are, but will they be safer where they are headed? The painting serves to remind us that on life’s two-way street, we are the change they are looking for.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee: This painting depicts two children. They are completely surrounded by older adults while passing under the watchful protection of a police officer that is directing traffic and providing them safe passage. We see the positive effects of being in a safe community environment that promotes education, leadership and self-reliance at such a young age.

What does this project mean to you?
Art has the power to help influence public opinion. For me, I believe this project can inspire new avenues of art practice and critical thinking that serve as creative strategies that help to inform others.

What do you hope people will feel when they see your work?
I hope they are encouraged to become accepting of cultural differences. It’s important for me to create work that has a narrative that promotes creativity, cultural exchange, history and inclusion.

Cake or pie?
I like to have my cake and eat pie too.