Dale and Mary Mrnak Memorial Visiting Artist shares art's role in social justice and peace-making with community
Indira Freitas Johnson stands with some of the artwork from her installation, "Lifetime Offer, Dimensions Variable," which was presented by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs in 2008.

Dale and Mary Mrnak Memorial Visiting Artist shares art's role in social justice and peace-making with community

Indira Freitas Johnson, an artist and cultural worker from India, is the 2009 The Dale and Mary Mrnak Memorial Visiting Artist at the College of St. Catherine this week.

Throughout her week-long residency, Johnson is sharing with the St. Kate's community the development of her artwork and her efforts to foster peace and cultural understanding.

The artist gave a lecture Tuesday evening and will be speaking to art classes throughout the week.

The program was created in memory of Dale Mrnak, a long-time member of the College of St. Catherine’s facilities staff, who died suddenly in December of 2005.

A native of India, Johnson earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also studied at the Folkuniversitetet in Sweden. She has lived in the Chicago area for the past 20 years.

She is the recipient of the Illinois Visual Artist Award, an Arts International Traveling Fellowship and an arts and industry grant from Kohler Co. of Sheboygan, Wis. Her work is in the collections of the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and Air India Corp., Mumbai.

Influenced by the social activism of her parents and inspired by ritualistic Indian folk art practices, Johnson's art addresses issues of labor, domestic violence, nonviolence and health education.

In 1993, she started the Shanti Foundation for Peace, a Chicago area nonprofit that fosters the practice of nonviolence by helping children develop decision-making skills.

Through arts and education programs, the foundation uses the collaborative process of creating art to provide a stimulating and non-threatening forum for equality, dialogue and friendship.

Programs use the creative process to break down barriers of communication and provide an opportunity for participants to challenge themselves both creatively and interpersonally in developing a collaborative artwork.

By Julie Michener
Feb. 17, 2009

Contact Kathy Harris, (651) 690-6636

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