Born in Oregon, Johnson grew up in the SF Bay area. He attended UC Davis where he received a BA and acquired his Teacher’s Credential. His studio is a barn and a meadow in rural Sonoma County, overlooking the Pacific. Despite his rural location Johnson has found international recognition with large scale sculpture in Italy, Spain and Taiwan as well as many private and public collections in the U.S.A. Johnson is also a master builder. Of special importance to him is his work on sacred buildings such as the Sea Ranch Chapel, the historic chapel at Fort Ross, a Moon Gate at the Asian Art Museum and especially the exquisitely beautiful Poetry House.
Like most of my work Five Elements is a celebration of materials. In Japan, a stone lantern is traditionally five elements or layers. In Japan there are five traditional elements of nature – Earth Air Fire Water and Wood. Both of these facts help explain the sculpture's title. I have often described my work as a cross between Shinto Shrines and Stonehenge, and this is a good example. Shinto shrines refers to sacred architecture and the mystic connection to nature. It also refers to the attention to craft and detail. In many ways Five Elements is a small shrine or a temple for bees but this describes what has been made more than why it was made.
In many ways Five Elements is like a megalithic standing stone, or a stack of stones, a cairn, a large trail marker, geologic in nature and primitive in its impulse to stand solid and bridge the space between earth and sky. As a marker it can hold a place or mark a location. As a large marker, megalithic in mass, Five Elements also contains light and has the scale to be seen from a distance, to mark a direction, define an axis, catch the eye and draw the viewer to the place where it stands. In this regard Five Elements is also a lighthouse or beacon, a subtle point of light in the darkness as delicate to the eye as a wind chime is to the ear. In many ways what I describe here is not what Five Elements is if it stands in a museum gallery but rather what it could be if it were placed with care in a landscape. Five Elements is more than an object, it is also the energized space it occupies.