Patricia Johanson papers, 1964-1998

A Finding Aid to the Patricia Johanson Papers, 1964-1998, in the Archives of American Art, by Jetta Samulski

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

Patricia Johanson, born in 1940, is an environmental sculptor and architect who creates large scale public works to solve environmental problems and create habitat and public recreational space. She graduated from Bennington College in 1962 and earned an M.A. in art history at Hunter College (1964). Johanson took civil engineering classes at New York's City College School of Architecture, earning a Bachelor's degree in Architecture in 1977. Inspired by the enormous canvases of the Abstract Expressionists, Johanson created huge sculptures such as Stephen Long (1968) which went beyond the field of vision and interacted with the environment. Johanson designed sculpture for Con Edison's Indian Point Nuclear Generating Plant (1972), the Whitney Colleges at Yale University (1972), and Columbus East High School, Columbus, Indiana (1973). Her architectural projects include Fair Park Lagoon in Dallas, Texas (1981-1982), Tidal Sculpture Garden for Pelham Bay Park in New York (1984), and the San Fransisco baywalk which transformed a new sewer into a public amenity and work of art. Her Park for the Amazon Rainforest (1992), commissioned for the Earth Summit, is an environmental sculpture that provides access from ground level up through the forest canopy along the Amazon River near Obidos, Brazil. Johanson's more recent projects include a master plan and ecological playgrounds for Ulsan Dragon Park (1996), a 912-acre site in South Korea, and the Rocky Marciano Trail and Salisbury River Greenway in Brockton, Massachusetts. Her husband is art historian Eugene C. Goossen.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

Papers of sculptor Patricia Johanson include professional and personal correspondence, 1967-1998; writings on public art, articles, and reviews; a transcript of an interview of Johanson conducted by Jan Evans; a copy of a Master's thesis written on Johanson's sculpture; clippings, exhibition catalogs and announcements; and photographs of Johanson and her work. The collection measures 1.5 linear feet and dates from 1964 to 1998.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 5 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following index terms:

  • Articles
  • Interviews
  • Photographs
  • Sculptors--New York (State)
  • Sculpture, Modern--20th century
  • Transcripts
  • Women artists--New York (State)--New York


Patricia Johanson donated her papers in 1975, 1983, 1989, 1997, and 1998.

How the Collection was Processed

The papers were processed in August 2004 by Jetta Samulski.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Patricia Johanson papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

Patricia Johanson papers, 1964-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Biographical Material, 1975-1997
(Box 1; 1 folder)

Series 1 includes three curriculum vitae, written by Johanson; 2 biographical sketches from Who's Who in America (1 is a galley proof); a sketch from Who's Who in the East (galley); and one from Who's Who of American Women (galley).

Box Folder
1 1 Biographical Sketches, 1975-1997

Series 2: Correspondence, 1967-1998, n.d.
(Box 1; 17 folders)

This series deals primarily with art-related matters. Many letters have copies of Johanson's replies included. Most of the early letters are photocopies, but many of the later ones are originals, including several original letters from Helen Frankenthaler. There are congratulatory letters for Johanson's exhibitions, discussions of her projects, requests for slides, requests for her to lecture or participate in symposiums, requests for art and architectural proposals, requests for her writing, requests to publish photos of her work, letters from graduate students asking for work, interviews, and input on thesis ideas. There are many sympathy cards concerning the death of her husband, Eugene Goossen, in 1997.

Box Folder
1 2-18 Letters and Cards to Patricia Johanson, 1967-1998, n.d.
(17 folders)

Series 3: Writings, 1968-1997, n.d.
(Box 1 and OV 3; 7 folders)

This series includes two transcripts of interviews of Johanson. There are photocopied and ink drawings for her designs of works and proposals for work, including the Con Edison Indian Point Visitors Center (1972), Columbus East High School (1973), Diptheria rock sculpture (1974), and proposals for public art in San Fransisco and Rockland County, New York. There are blueprints for the Fair Park Lagoon Sculpture in Dallas, Texas. Writings include personal statements about her artwork, notebooks, collection records for the Museum of Modern Art, a slide lecture, and the convocation address given at the Massachusetts College of Art in May, 1995. Published writings include a 1992 monograph by Johanson and several magazine and newsletter articles. Writings by others include student papers written about Johanson including a master's thesis.

Box Folder
1 19 Designs of Works, 1972-1982
1 20 Proposals for Public Art, 1990, n.d.
1 21 Writings and Notebooks by Patricia Johanson, 1968-1996
1 22 Interview Transcripts, 1987, n.d.
1 23 Writings by Others - Student Papers, 1979
1 24 Writings by Others - Student Papers and Thesis, 1991-1997
OV 3 Project Plans and Blueprints, 1972-1982

Series 4: Printed Material, 1966-1998, n.d.
(Boxes 1-2 and OV 3; 12 folders)

This series includes exhibition catalogs and announcements and three exhibition posters. There are magazine and newspaper clippings about Johanson and her work. There is one folder of articles published in magazines, pamphlets and other publications.

Box Folder
1 25-31 Exhibition Announcements and Catalogs, 1964-1996, n.d.
(7 folders)
Box Folder
2 1 Publications with Articles about Johanson, 1987-1997, n.d.
2 2-4 Clippings, 1966-1997, n.d.
(3 folders)
OV 3 Exhibition Posters, 1966-1982,

Series 5: Photographs, 1962-1996, n.d.
(Box 2 and OV 3; 8 folders)

Photographs, both color and black and white, include snapshots, 8 x 10 glossy prints, and one oversized photograph. Subjects include Johanson from childhood until 1996, her husband Eugene C. Goossen, and her finished artwork as well as works in progress. There are several photos of artist Mark Rothko, and one photo of Johanson with Georgia O'Keeffe. There are photos of Johanson's architectural designs from 1972-1982. Also found are 58 color photocopies made in 1995 of the works of artist Doug Ohlson, whose work was included along with Johanson's in the 1964 exhibit "8 Young Artists," an exhibit organized and curated by Goossen.

Box Folder
2 5-7 Photographs of Patricia Johanson, 1962-1996, n.d.
(3 folders)
2 8 Photographs of Johanson's Artwork, 1964-1977
2 9 Photographs of Johanson's Architectural Designs, 1972-1982
2 10-11 Color Photocopies of the Works of Doug Ohlson, 1995
(2 folders)
OV 3 Oversized Photograph of Patricia Johanson with Painting Minor Keith, 1967