Photographer Captures the Color of Off-White

Photographer Captures the Color of Off-White

March 7, 2022

Bethany Johnson has a knack for pasty, vanilla nothingness of non-color. So apt, that the Cannatown Museum of Very High Art will feature a collection of her work beginning next Friday. 

“This off-white just…strikes you,” said Willy Filkerson, avid collector and editor of Uninteresting Art Magazine. “It’s startling, it’s emotional, it’s passionless, it’s hateful, it’s cathartic.” 

The work, mostly photos of walls, sheets, and paper, explore the very essence of what it means to be a human. Her portraits have been featured everywhere from Tunisia to Berlin, gathering international acclaim along the way. Critics have hailed it as everything from disturbing and delirious, to downright devious and psychologically-manipulative. Yet, the artist seems to take everything in stride.

“I try to pinpoint the moment on camera, when rainbow, and off-white intersect, but just slightly on the off-white side,” Johnson wrote in her latest published work, A New Level of Dull.

A growing following of enthusiasts have adopted the movement, and crowds to her shows are notably swelling in number. “There’s just something about the colors she captures,” says CMVHA director Carmen Simon, “It’s just so devoid of life, that it has absolute purpose, like dark matter. Or NPR.”

Johnson first started in the art world as a purveyor of beige, putting together nearly two full photo collections of primed drywall and men’s khaki pants. But a series of traumatic events forced her to take residence in an upstate apartment where she fell in love, then betrayed, by the color of her newly painted ceiling. “I sought to expose the very hues of drudgery surrounding us all,” she later explained.

No matter the emotional angle, collectors are hooked on her art. “It just goes so well with my furniture,” remarked Filkerson.