J. E. Johnson is a scenic production and technical design professional at Texas Performing Arts at The University of Texas at Austin. At the University he depends on an explicit yet nuanced approach to craft training that is sensitive to the needs of each learner as a means to produce professional quality scenery with inexperienced students. He also collaborates with internationally known artists to create new work, including Diana Al-Hadid’s sculpture, “Suspended After Image.” An artist in his own right, J. E. designs and builds furniture and has also creates sophisticated automata and etched brass ornaments. He is inspired by each step of our human technologic progress from stone tools to iPads and he recently had the opportunity to share his enthusiasm by designing a working mechanical clock constructed from recycled cereal boxes and then teaching 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders to build their own for the Austin Diocese Educational Enrichment Program summer camp. He was born and raised near New Gottland township in McPherson County, Kansas.


Learn everything you could ever want to know about my career in the arts on my LinkedIn page.

Artist Statement

My approach to making art is rooted in a personal desire to be immortal.

I feel a kinship with the Medieval master metalsmiths whose exquisite yet durable objects were precisely crafted to exalt the narrative of their time. In my work, I revel in how these centuries-old narratives continue to exert a broad influence on our own perceptions and actions.

Though my muse is Medieval my methods are thoroughly modern. I produce the images using an acid resist etching method on brass. The automated work uses clockwork gear trains, cams, and linkages made on machine tools from modern alloys and fasteners.