Navigate Up
Sign In

deborah.jpgDeborah J. Johnson

Department of Art History
Department of Women's Studies

Contact Information:
Hunt-Cavanagh Hall, Room 205



Ph.D. -  Brown University


Area(s) of Expertise:

Modern Art,  American and European Art Since 1945,  American Art,  The Harlem Renaissance Museum Studies,  Interpretive Methods in Art History,  Introduction to Women's Studies, Women in the Visual, Literary and Performing Arts Since 1960, Women in the Media.

Biographical Information:

Professor Deborah Johnson received her Ph.D. in Art History from Brown University in 1984, specializing in 19th and 20th century European art, the history of photography, and modern Chinese and Japanese art. At Providence College, she has focused her interests on 20th century western art, especially since 1945. She is also on the faculty of the Women's Studies Department, which she helped to found in 1993 and of which she is former Director, and teaches regularly in the Black Studies Program and the American Studies Program. Prior to her arrival at Providence College, she worked for over a decade as a museum professional. She continues to exercise her interests in museum work by teaching museum studies courses and serving on the Committees for the Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery and the Reilly Gallery at Providence College. In 2006, she was appointed Manager of Public Art for the State of Rhode Island through which she directed the federal program, 1% for Art. In addition, she was awarded a Certificate in Jewish Sacred Music in 2013 by Hebrew College.

Current Interests and Research:
Modern and contemporary art; gender studies; Black studies; art and spirituality in the 20th century.

Courses taught:

Modern Art
American and European Art Since 1945
American Art
The Harlem Renaissance
Museum Studies
Interpretive Methods in Art History
Introduction to Women's Studies
Women in the Visual, Literary and Performing Arts Since 1960
Women in the Media
Selected Publications:
Books and Catalogs:
"The Piano Lesson Negotiated," Henry Symonds: Matisse Considered and Abandoned, Dunedin School of Art Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand, May 2013.

Associate Editor, International Journal of the Arts in Society, University Press Journals, Victoria, Australia, 2006-07.

Seeing and Beyond: Essays in 18th21st Century Art in Honor of Kermit S. Champa
, written and edited in collaboration with Dr. David Ogawa, Peter Lang, Inc., New York, 2004.
Women Making Art: Women in the Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts Since 1960, written and edited in collaboration with Dr. Wendy Oliver, Peter Lang, Inc., 2001.

"Metaphors and Memories: The Prints and Drawings of Joseph Norman," Monologue, Joseph Norman, Cornell University, 1997, Ithaca, New York.

Editor, Students on Gender, Numbers 1, 2, and 3, Providence College, Providence, RI, 1994-1996.

Guest Editor, Special Issue, "The Achievements of Women in Photography," Photographic Insight, Journal II, Number 4, 1992.

Whistler to Weidenaar: American Prints
, 1870-1950, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1987.

From the Age of David to the Age of Picasso: French Drawings from a Private Collection
, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1984. Catalog in collaboration with Dr. Eric Zafran of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA.
Master Drawings from the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1983. Editor and primary author.
Award: Award of Distinction, American Association of Museums. 
A Century of Black Photographers, 1840-1960, Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI, 1983. Editor and author of essay "Black Photography in Context.
Awards: First place, New England Museum Association; Award of Distinction, American Association of Museums.
Articles and Chapters in Books:
"Marcel Duchamp, Rrose Selavy, and Gender Performativity," The International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 1, Issue 7, 2007.
First runner-up for annual Award of Excellence

Book Review, Mary Wollstonecraft, A Revolutionary Life, Providence, Studies in Western Civilization , Winter 2001.

Book Review, "Women Artists of Italian Futurism: Almost Lost to History," Art Journal, Fall 1998.
"The Professional Lives and Training of American Women Artists in the 20th Century," Dictionary of Women Artists, Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.

"Photography and the Japanese Print in 1850," Readings in Nineteenth Century Art , Janis Tomlinson, ed., Prentice-Hall, 1995.

"Is Art Central to Art History, and Other Debacles," The International Journal of Museum Management and Curatorship, Spring 1993.

"Reconsidering Japonisme: The Goncourts's Contribution," Mosaic, Spring 1991.
"R (r) ose Sélavy as Man Ray:  Reconsidering the Alter Ego of Marcel Duchamp," Art Journal, Volume 72, Number 1, Spring 2013 .
"Confluence and Influence: Photography and Japanese Print in 1850," The Rise of Landscape Painting in France, Corot to Monet , The Currier Gallery of Art and traveling to three additional sites, 1991, Manchester, NH.

"Cassatt's Color Prints of 1891: The Unique Evolution of a Palette," Source: Notes in the History of Art, Spring 1990.

Exhibition Review, "Mary Cassatt: The Color Prints," The Burlington Magazine, January 1990.
"Japonisme in Art, an International Symposium," review, The Burlington Magazine, CXXV, 1982, 561-562.
"Japanese Prints in Europe Before 1840," The Burlington Magazine, CXXIV, 1982, 343-348.
Europe in Torment, 1450-1550, Brown University, Providence, RI, 1974. Co-editor and author of essay "A History of the Temptation of St. Anthony and the Seven Vices in the Visual Arts."
  Teaching Philosophy:
"Remember -- the important thing is never to stop questioning!"
-Albert Einstein  
In the classroom, I am interested in presenting art works that are not simply visually pleasing (many 20th and 21st century works are not), but that inspire us to think about the work, its maker, the time in which it was made, and ourselves. In addition, I am committed not only to teaching works that are acknowledged as major achievements (see the Matisse above), but those that may have been inappropriately overlooked, such as works by women and minorities (see the Ringgold above). Seeing actual artworks is an important component of my teaching, and field trips to area museums such as the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design , and those in Boston and New York, are important events.
Catholic and Dominican

What does it mean to be a Catholic and Dominican college? We invite you to explore this question and the distinctive mission of Providence College.
About Providence College's Catholic and Dominican Identity