Rashid Johnson's art on display at MCA

In this photo taken, Friday, April 6, 2012, artist Rashid Johnson poses with some of his work that is part of his first solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. In the last year, the Chicago native whose works made from everyday objects explore his own life story as well as larger issues of black identity, has garnered high-profile attention and awards from the art world. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

April 18, 2012 1:34:06 PM PDT
Chicago native Rashid Johnson opened his first major solo museum exhibition at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art this month.

"We really felt because of that absence, it was time," curator Julie Rodrigues Wildholm said about giving the Johnson a solo exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Johnson, 34, flew under the radar for more than a decade, but has recently received accolades from the art world.

"Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks," uses everyday materials from his childhood including mirrored tile, red oak wood and wax. It's a process that he calls, "hijacking the domestic," according to the Museum of Contemporary Art website. Through various mediums including sculpture and video, his work represents cultural African-American references and is intertwined with his identity.

At the MCA, most of Johnson's exhibits include a childhood memory. In "The Shuttle," Johnson draws on memories where he and his father would listen and respond to calls through a CB radio without knowing whom they would reach.

Born in Evanston, Johnson grew up in Chicago's Wicker Park. He now lives in New York but has said in interviews that he will always consider himself a Chicagoan. He started his art career at Columbia College Chicago as a photography major and then attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Johnson keeps Chicago in his exhibit through photos.

Johnson is a nominee for the Guggenheim Museum's Hugo Boss Prize and won the High Museum's David C. Driskell prize for African-American art and scholarship.

The Chicago exhibition spans Johnson's body of work for the past ten years, emphasizing the last five. It runs through Aug. 5 and then heads to the Miami Art Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis.