A TRIBUTE TO SHIRLEY CHISHOLM
Shirley Chisholm, a native Brooklynite, became the first black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968. She also ran for United States President in 1972. Before withdrawing from the presidential race, she had won 152 delegates as the Democratic candidate.
Many years ago, a young man named Al Johnson had the wonderful opportunity to meet Shirley Chisholm. She gave him inspiration from the encouraging words she spoke unto him. That moment stayed with him for years to follow. From a young age, Al was referred to as “the artist”. It was through his media attention that afforded him the chance meeting with Shirley Chisholm.
Al Johnson has studied at Pratt Art Institute, the Students Art League and as the Albert Pale School of Commercial Arts under the instruction of Art Faragaso. He co-founded the Cross Culture Gallery during the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Ga in 1996. His fine work has been exhibited in the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum in Japan. Most recently, his oil on canvas portrait of former Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm has been installed in the Rotunda in Brooklyn Borough Hall. She is the first Black American woman to have her portrait be installed in Brooklyn Borough Hall. Al Johnson also has a portrait of Shirley Chisholm featured below, which in talks of becoming a United States Postal Stamp.
Al Johnson has implemented a mentoring program where he works with both children and elders. His mission is to have his students embrace their creativity by learning to create natural forms. In the program, students learn to in their hands. He says, “drawing is almost like sculpting. You have eyes in your hands.”
Al Johnson has been mentoring for 10 years. His mentoring program is operated at the gallery. If you are interested in seeing the gallery or enrolling your child into the Al Johnson, Inc. Summer Art Mentoring Program:
Renowned artist Al Johnson with his portrait of Shirley Chisholm
Contact Barbara at 347-406-5131.
Gallery hours are by appointment only.
written by Valarie Carey
This article was orginally printed in Val’s Word! December 2006 issue.
To see more of Al Johnson’s work visit his website at www.aljohnsonartstudio.com