Episode 26: The Wisdom of Insecurity - A Conversation with Chris Johnson


Summary: Sabrina and Trent talk to photographer and teacher Chris Johnson. 

Tip Jar

Show Notes: 


Chris Johnson is a photographic and video artist, curator and writer. He is currently a full Professor of Photography at the California College of the Arts.

Chris studied photography with Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham and Wynn Bullock.

His photographic artwork has been exhibited in gallery and museum shows including the Smithsonian Museum, and the Oakland Museum of California. His video projects have been installed in numerous museums and art institutions.

Chris Johnson is the author of The Practical Zone System: for Film and Digital Photography; currently in its 6th edition.  Chris was President of San Francisco Camerawork Gallery for 4 years and from 1999 – 2005 he served as Chair of the City of Oakland’s Cultural Affairs Commission.

From 1997 to 2000 he was Director of the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography. As a member of the Public Art Management Team for the Port of Oakland, Chris Johnson is Project Manager and originated the concept for the 8’ x 20’ Media Wall installed in the new baggage claim area in 2007.  

In 1996 he created and produced a one-hour video piece titled “Question Bridge” that investigates class issues within the black community.

The current version of this project: Question Bridge:Black Males was produced with Hank Willis Thomas and a team including Kamal Sinclair and Bayeté Ross Smith.  This project opened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and at the Brooklyn and Oakland Museums.

Question Bridge:Black Males won the 2015 International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award and in 2016 was inducted in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture.

In 2015 Aperture published Question Bridge: Black Males in America.

Most recently Chris created a major multimedia exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California titled “Who is Oakland?” and he is adding photographs and video to a site-specific augmented reality work called the Oakland Fence Project and his installation titled the Wisdom Arc Time Machine can be seen at the Exploratorium.

2. One of the pieces from the series of Polaroids documenting a breakup. 

3. Question Bridge HERE.

4. Alan Watts audio books.

5. More Alan Watts.