Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson

“This airy collection of jewelry, called S T R A N D S, began with a dandelion flower chain. This visual from my girlhood is embedded in my mind — pushing a fingernail through the stem, feeding an end through the opening like a needle’s eye, and gently repeating until that delicate loop came together as a necklace, bracelet, ring or crown. Over the course of the day, the chains would shrivel, dry, fall apart or disappear. I threaded more. The bees danced around my head.

‘Strings of beads are universal to all peoples and beliefs. They’re a tangible symbol of connection. Beads can tell a story, can inspire us, celebrate someone or something we love, or help us work through a difficulty…. [they are] personal reminders or public declarations.’ — Mindful Beads, Alice Peck


Over time, I was drawn to assemble some form of these flower chains again, with a series of moments in mind as I worked. { A tree draped in rosaries outside of the Santuario de Guadalupe in Santa Fe, a strand of 1920’s carved bone beads at a market in the south of France, sleepless nights in mourning, nausea in pregnancy, counting beads along a strand in the dark like sheep to distract my mind into a state of rest, a pile of dried cattle bones in a field, learning to loop metal wire over and over to connect sandalwood beads, writing down that the origin of the word bead is ‘bede,' meaning prayer } — all of these moments converged into a desire to create versatile pieces that are not only worn day-to-day, but also represent capsules for the passage of time. Maybe these flower chains will last a little longer than the originals.

You’ll notice that this core concept of ‘garland’ informs the selection of shapes, symbols and patterns that emerge. My process involves not only the physical: research, material selection, assembly, trial and error, balance, aesthetics — but also takes on a form of storytelling and spirituality: language, function, meaning, and meditative repetition. The pieces of S T R A N D S  are vehicles made up of a selection of building blocks, with beads or amulets representing substance and links or loops representing the space between that allows them to breathe and be seen. Sometimes the open chain simply speaks for itself. The pieces suspend, calm, connect, and remind us of the origins of the materials that they are made from — the tree, the being’s bones, the metals buried deep, or the stones turned from underneath.”    

— Cameron 


Cameron Johnson is a visual artist, writer and freelance designer based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

She studied French LanguagePoetry, Printmaking and Sculpture at the University of Virginia, Photography & Painting at the Savannah College of Art & Design’s abroad program in Lacoste, France, and Graphic Design at the Santa Fe Community College.           


At the center of her creative practice is a distinctive voice and style — where aesthetics are championed and placement, juxtaposition, and editing is everything. To make is a sacred act — in any form. Within each of us is a luminary putting a voice to what is inherently our own. In the words of poet Seamus Heaney during his PBS interview, “When it comes alive in a way that you feel it’s your own utterance, then I think you’re in business.”


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