By Susan Marquez
With bright splashes of color, Lacy Barger Johnson carefully places layer upon layer of acrylic paint on canvas to create stunning works of art. She uses the natural rhythms, patterns and colors found in nature to better understand and express the transitions in her own life. Those expressions are in the form of colorful paintings that evoke happiness and joy, much like the artist herself.
Johnson is a native of Greenwood, and attended Pillow Academy in high school. “I’ve always had a real interest in art,” she says. “I think it goes back to my great-great grandmother, whose art was displayed at the first World’s Fair.” Johnson took art lessons from Sally Lott in Greenwood as a young girl, and later from David Taylor while she was a student at Pillow. “Both teachers were amazing,” Johnson recalls. “Sally Lott has always been so encouraging, and I always kept in touch with her to let her know how I was doing with my art. Mr. Taylor was a great art teacher too. I learned so much from him.” While in high school, Johnson also worked on the annual staff. “My senior year I was the editor, so I was able to put some of my own designs into the yearbook.”
After graduating with a degree in painting and psychology from Ole Miss, Johnson headed to east Georgia to pursue her Master’s degree at the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD). She was in the MFA program there, where she studied painting extensively.
Johnson then moved to Jackson and worked full time at the Pearl River Glass Studio in Jackson as a glass artist and gallery coordinator, but she has stepped down from cutting glass to work part time running the gallery. “That gives me more time to paint,” she explained.
Johnson’s work is a reflection of her life, with layers and layers of paint. “I like to think of artwork as mirroring the human experience. The transitions and adaptations we go through in life are like the layering of paint.” Her first big exhibit was in Savannah. It was called “Unfolding,” because according to Johnson, “life unfolds before you every day. My work was like a step forward as life unfolds. Her next exhibit was called “Growth Abiding.” As a Christian, Johnson says that by abiding in Christ, there will always be growth.
In 2010, the year she graduated, Johnson received the Savannah School of Art & Design Student Opportunity Fellowship Grant. She also received the New York City Workspace honor, and while in New York, Johnson worked at the Pierogi Gallery where she held an Open Studio. In addition to having works on display in New York, Johnson’s work has been shown throughout Mississippi and Georgia, including shows at Fischer Galleries and The Cedars in Jackson and with Louise Hooker’s Art Hunt website as an artist rising.
Several interior designers have become familiar with Johnson’s work and she has had many commissions from designers for homes both in the Jackson area and in the Delta. She creates her work in a bright and airy studio space she shares with other artists in the 121 Studio space in the Millsaps art district in Jackson. “It’s just across the street from Pearl River Glass, so it works out well for me to run the gallery there and to paint in my studio.” Johnson says she paints almost every day and has enjoyed having the time to explore more in her studio.
When she’s not painting, Johnson enjoys spending time with her husband, Patrick, who is also a native of Greenwood. “We have a garden in our backyard which we enjoy working, and we like cooking. Both of us enjoy spending time with family and friends and we like exercising.”