Mama Johnson was born June 21, 1918, in Tampa, Florida, and passed away in Tampa on January 30, 2011.
Mama Johnson always gave God full credit for her ability to “fix things up.” She would recycle whatever she had on hand to make her unique figures. A face painted on a light bulb, topped by a hat cut out of some leftover window screen and stuck in the top of a plastic ketchup bottle, would become one of her missionary dolls “going out to do some good.” Her creations were her company, and she talked to them; preaching and cajoling. Sometimes she would say they were ugly and called them “aliens,” but then, “Aliens walk and talk just like us and some of them is nice just like some of us is nice.”
Mama Johnson’s wonderful sense of humor and lively spirit lives on in her art. Her work is in many prestigious collections and is included in the permanent collection of the Mennello Museum of Folk Art in Orlando, Florida.
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