PhillyFolk Artists

Christina Johnson

African American Quilter

Christina Johnson is a West Philadelphia fiber artist focused on relaying traditional African American quilting techniques and cultural values. She says, “My art challenges traditional and stereotypical edicts, encouraging individual empowerment with the hope of assisting women to use their voices and art for continued social change. I believe in the motto, ‘each one teach one and then pass it on.'”

She has been a teaching artist for many years, with the Philadelphia school system, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and elsewhere. Ms. Johnson has long been interested in using her work to promote healing and offer comfort. She created quilts and pillowcases for children with cancer and sickle cell patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and has worked with cancer patients, HIV-infected women, and with Alzheimer patients to create memory blocks for quilts. Ms. Johnson founded the Heart Strings Quilt Guild and co-founded the Southeastern Pennsylvania African American Quilt Documentation Project to survey the region’s African American quilts and quilters. Her work has been widely exhibited at Art Sanctuary, the National Constitution Center, Villanova University, and elsewhere. She has received grants from the Leeway and Independence Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and others.

In a recent project exploring how quilts can be a means of gathering family traditions and history, she has been creating historical memory quilts for presentation at family gatherings. Christina E. Johnson Fiber Artist & Quilter, a book produced by her husband, Walter Johnson, features her work.

She participated in PFP’s 2012 Community Supported Art (CSA) program, making quilted photo frames. She aimed to use a traditional woman’s art to encourage people to display treasured images. Ms. Johnson saw this as a means of prompting questions and encouraging intergenerational storytelling.

Photo of quilt by Walter H. Johnson