We are deeply saddened by the loss of Leroy Johnson, a Resident Alumni of The Clay Studio and one of Philadelphia's great artists of the last 50 years.
Leroy Johnson (1937-2022) was a mixed-media artist whose work takes the form of painting, collage, and assemblage sculpture. A native of Philadelphia, his work is poetic and reflective of his complex relationship with the city where he spent his life.
Johnson was many things to many people. He was joyful, wise, and a vibrant member of many communities. He was an activist, a social worker, an art teacher, and a Claymobile teacher at The Clay Studio, in addition to being a prolific artist. His artistic career evolved during the Black Arts Movement in Philadelphia in the 1960’s. At age 8 Johnson read Richard Wright’s Black Boy, and felt from that moment that his mission was to become an artist. Johnson attended classes at Fleisher Art Memorial and the Philadelphia College of Art (UArts), and earned a Masters in Human Services at Lincoln University.
“The only voice that we have now… is art,” Mr. Johnson once said. “Art is one of the few places where minorities, people who are disempowered, can have a chance to say something. ... We should respect and enjoy our diversity and preserve our unique customs and share them without fear and hostility.”
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