History of Art and Architecture

Annika Johnson



Annika Johnson is a 2016-2017 research fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., where she is completing her dissertation research on the confluence of Euro-American and Eastern Dakota art in the Upper Midwest during the nineteenth century. Her MA research examined newspaper illustrations of the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War and images that commemorated its symbolic ending: the public execution of thirty-eight Dakota men, the largest mass execution in American history. The context of civil war visual reporting and the history of execution imagery contextualized these troubling images, which took on a life of their own as they appeared on commemorative prints, moving panoramas, and commercial items for decades following the war.

Her dissertation examines how images and objects negotiated cultural difference during the turbulent settlement of the Upper Midwest in the nineteenth century. Through the lens of agency—that of people and objects—she places visual representations of Dakota culture on equal footing with the Dakota art objects and persons that they represent. Pipestone carving plays a major role in her research, as shifts in imagery illuminates how Dakota artists portrayed their changing world for visitors to their homelands. She examines how the paintings and Native American art collections of George Catlin and Seth Eastman, who both eagerly sought to document the people and sacred sites of the region, popularized the region and informed federal Indian policy. 

Broadly Annika is interested in issues of agency and appropriation as they relate to cultural exchange. Contemporary artworks and installations that not only reflect on, but intervene in and reimagine the past greatly inform her approach to interpreting nineteenth-century objects. She was able to explore these issues during a trip to Aboriginal art centers in Australia and as co-editor-in-chief of Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture edition 5, and she continues to do so through her exhibition reviews and curatorial projects.

Education Details

Dissertation: “Agency at the Confluence of Euro-American and Eastern Dakota Art, 1835-1900” 

2014, M.A., University of Pittsburgh, History of Art and Architecture
M.A. Paper: “Commemorating Mass Execution: Visual Culture of the U.S.-Dakota War, 1862-1912”
Advisor: Kirk Savage  

2011, B.A., University of Minnesota, Art History 

Selected Publications

Review of Culture Shift: Une Révolution Culturelle at Art Mûr and various galleries, Montréal, American Indian Culture and Research Journal (forthcoming). 

"Agency In Motion," introduction to Contemporaneity: Historical Presence in Visual Culture 5 (Fall 2016), with Nicole Scalissi

“An Aesthetic Experience: Japonisme in the North,” review of Japanomania in the Nordic Countries, 1875-1918 at the Ateneum, Helskinki, Journal of Japonisme I (Fall 2016): 211-226. 

Review of Contemporary Native Photographers and the Edward Curtis Legacy at the Portland Art Museum, Portland, OR, First American Art Magazine 11 (Spring 2016): 74-76, with Marina Tyquiengco. 

Review of Illusions in Motion: Media Archaeology of the Moving Panorama and Related Spectacles by Erkki Huhtamo, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 13, no. 1 (Spring 2014). 

Review of Osman Hamdi Bey and the Americans: Archaeology, Diplomacy, Art at the Pera Museum, Istanbul, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 11, no.3 (Fall 2012)  

Selected Awards

Current: Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian American Art Museum 

2015-2016, Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh 

2015, Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Predoctoral Fellowship for Historians of American Art to Travel Abroad (researched Aboriginal art in remote Australia) 

2015, Pittsburgh Foundation, Walter Read Hovey Fellowship in Art History 

2012-2013Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh