By: Laura Knaur
Much of Jeremiah Johnson’s work is created using found objects and recycled materials. Inspired by the exuberant amount of credit card applications Johnson received as an undergraduate he began collecting them without any certain plan as to what to do with them. “Some months I would receive nearly 20,” he said. While in graduate school he began constructing them together to form a larger piece, which he would later paint on but he decided against this and continued saving them. Johnson stated “If I actually cashed in all these credit cards and maxed them out immediately I’d have enough money to move to some deserted island somewhere in the Pacific and hide out where they wouldn’t find me and get their money back.” Secondly, Johnson was extremely mad about getting them because he was not making any money and was too poor to even have credit cards yet he had so many offers coming each month.
Inspiration for the credit card application houses finally occurred out of the recent housing crisis and the realization that the houses people were buying were on credit that they could not afford to pay back because of such high interest rates. “It finally occurred to me to build houses out of them; everyone else is buying their houses on credit so why not build houses out of credit card applications” he said. Johnson also stated that he did not want to open the credit card applications, it was more important for them to remain closed because he wanted to insult the credit company by not even opening their mail. Moving about every 2 years while he was saving them the applications feature different addresses which Johnson had previously lived; there are about 5 different addresses on the different applications: 2 Philadelphia, PA addresses, 2 in Syracuse, New York, and 2 in Williamsport, PA. Johnson said, “I don’t even have to sign these things because my name is all over them so that’s why it was most important for the applications to be mine. After a while my friends were even giving me their credit card applications but I realized that when I started this project I couldn’t use them.”
Drawing inspiration from neighborhood houses, the credit card application houses were constructed to look like houses in Johnson’s neighborhood. Johnson at the time was also looking to buy a house so particular attention was paid those houses. However, houses in his neighborhood stated disappearing with the construction of the new hospital. “Even today there are theses yellow dots, the dot of the plague, which indicated which houses were going to be destroyed,” said Johnson. The houses are held together by office tape. This is symbolic of the credit card applications and offers because they seem as if they should be a good rock solid deal but that only lasts a short while. After the tape starts to age it soon falls apart creating chaos for the card holder.
Jeremiah Johnson’s credit card houses will be featured at the Converge Gallery from May 18 – June 23 with an opening reception May 18 from 6-9 p.m. The Converge Gallery will also he hosting an artist talk featuring Jeremiah Johnson’s work. The talk will be Friday, June 15, 2012 at 6 p.m.