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"rescued" by dayo johnson: exhibition recap

Dayo Johnson's exhibition, "Rescued," is on display in Kentuck's Museum Gallery from February 1, 2024 until February 29, 2024. This series of paintings, which she calls her "Children of God," is the only series that Dayo travels with for exhibitions, and you do not want to miss it! When Dayo is not painting "Children of God," she's doing commissioned custom realism portraits.



Twenty-five years ago, Dayo found herself having a deep passion for art, while also raising kids and needing to make ends meet. She remembers a feeling of a firm desire to paint, but couldn't afford canvas. Making do with what she had around her, she found plywood in her storage and began to create.


"I grabbed that plywood and I painted this baby with this wild hair and I said 'Oh my gosh this is it.'"


Dayo intended to do a realistic portrait, but she said she was "moved by the Spirit, which said, 'That's it. You're done.'" Dayo has found that allowing the portraits to remain faceless allows people to relate to them more. They see themselves or someone they know in each portrait.



"My work is a reflection of life as I hope it to be. Reflections of hope, love, peace and unity. I see the rescued items I use in my pieces as a way to create that hope."


Dayo credits some of her passion to growing up around her family. Her parents participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961, when Civil Rights activists rode integrated, interstate buses through the segregated American South. Dayo also credits some of her inspiration to her Aunt Polly, who was a professional artist throughout Dayo's formative years. While their artwork is not similar, Dayo remembers how rare it was at that time to know a Black woman who was working as a professional artist, and Polly's career demonstrated to Dayo what it meant to be a full time artist.


Dayo's passion for her work is evident in the care she takes to frame her pieces. The items she uses are discarded as trash, but she sees them as wonderful. The mismatched pieces she assembles to frame her workold barn wood with the rusty nails or a shiny piece of jewelrywork together to create a harmonious picture of unity and hope.


"Chipped paint and old fencing, car parts, beads and springs, these are all an essential part of my work and will forever give me Hope."



Dayo has been creating beautiful works of art for over 30 years. She has traveled to many states exhibiting her work at juried art shows and other events, and she is represented by many galleries including Ellis–Chambers Gallery, Art on 5 and in gift shops including The Tennessee State Museum. She has had solo exhibits at Vanderbilt University and her works can be seen in several centers’ private collections throughout the campus. She has been commissioned as a muralist for Metro Nashville Public Schools and is a self- published illustrator of a coloring book. Her work can be seen in online publications like The Creative Jar and Sara Cannon Center for the Arts. She’s also a member of Nashville based, female Artists group “Artsy Chicks”. She is best known for her “Children of God” series which depicts children of all nationalities with expressions of unity, love, faith and peace. Dayo enjoys sharing her gift with people of all ages through teaching private and community based art classes. Dayo currently resides and creates in Nashville , Tennessee. 


The Museum Gallery is open Monday through Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00-4:00pm. Rescued by Dayo Johnson is a part of Kentuck's 2024 season, Repurposed, which lifts up women's voices in art and community through visual art, exhibitions, music, and a series of speakers. This season is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Available Work:

Please call 205-758-1527 or email mbell@kentuck.org for purchasing. To enlarge an image, please click on it.



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