YNEZ JOHNSTON (1920–2019) Ynez Johnston was born in 1920 in Berkeley, California. She attended the University of California, Berkeley where she studied drafting, painting and printmaking with Worth Ryder, Erle Loran and Margaret Peterson. Johnston's unique style blends modernism and ancient art forms from her travels to Italy, Mexico, India and Nepal. In addition to her intricate prints and paintings, Johnston also created three dimensional pieces in collaboration with her husband, poet and novelist John Berry, and with ceramic sculptor Adam Mekler.
Her watercolors, oils and etchings of the 1950s and 1960s were rich with complex imagery, and displayed a disciplined, restrained use of color. In later mixed-media pieces, she examined the tactile qualities of surface. Her paintings incorporated soil, acrylic, dyes, encaustic on cloth, canvas, and raw silk. Composite forms suggest ambiguous architectural, human, animal and plant shapes. Johnston cited Persian and Indian miniatures as influences but also drew inspiration from European abstract artists Matisse, Miro, Klee and Picasso.
In 1951, a selection of her paintings and etchings were featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Subsequently, she received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, first place in watercolor at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1952, and Fresno Art Museum's Distinguished Artist Award in 1992. Her work is in the collections several prominent institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.