His visually arresting and conceptually rich body of work forges connections between words, objects and ideas. His art spans a broad range of concepts, contexts and mediums including painting, collage, drawing, sculpture and installations and can be seen in museum and gallery exhibitions, site-specific public art commissions, and through his original award-winning children’s books.
Much of Johnson’s work is characterized by an interest in the alphabet and language, which began with his book Alphabet City, a Caldecott Honor and New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year. His most recent engagement with the alphabet is his ongoing series of “literal abstractions” which are the subject of his book A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet, also a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year, and a solo exhibition at the Mulvane Art Museum at Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas.
Johnson’s drawings and paintings are in numerous private and permanent collections, including the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and the New Britain Museum of Art, Connecticut. Solo exhibitions of his work have been featured at the Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Rochester, New York; the Katonah Museum of Art, New York; and the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.
Among his public art is a large mosaic mural at the DeKalb Avenue subway station in Brooklyn, New York and a 58-foot long mural at the Universal City Metro Station in North Hollywood, California.