Johnnie Bess is a Miami based, multi-media artist, educator, and father. In his artwork, he specializes in ceramic sculpture and portraiture. After receiving his Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree with concentrations in painting and photography, from Howard University in 2009, Bess began to teach Visual Art in Washington D.C. public schools. In 2011 the artist settled his family in Miami Florida where he has been teaching and showing work ever since.
In college, Johnnie was first introduced to ceramics. It would be several years later before he “matured” enough for the medium.
In 2016, inspired by pre-Columbian pottery encounter with elders in travels to Guasca Columbia, and joyful memories of insight gained via mentors at Howard University, , Bess reacquainted himself with clay and begun to use that medium.
Bess incorporates ceramics into his own curriculum and steadily more extensively in his exhibition work. Bess uses his paintings and ceramic work to question and affirm our collective identities, and our roots.
In 2019 Bess was awarded the Oolite Arts, Teacher’s Travel grant to return to Iwakuni, Japan, where he lived in his childhood, to learn the city’s 400-year-old style of traditional ceramics pottery known as Hagi ware.
For Bess, art serves as a means to explore and elucidate compartmentalized areas of his own spirit, exploring veiled nature/nurture aspects of the psyche to make them whole again, free and spontaneous, mirroring the collective evolution he envisions for all children of the African Diaspora.