Special Exhibit


Friday, Jan. 15 – Saturday, March 26

Exhibit Opening, Friday, Jan. 15, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Gallery Walk, Saturday, Jan. 16, 11 a.m.
Start with Art, Friday, Jan. 29, 9 a.m. – noon
Family Night, Friday, Jan. 29, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Special Program Co-sponsored with IAHM, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2 p.m.
Exhibit Closing, Saturday, March 26, 4 p.m.

About the Exhibit and Artists:

Living and creating together in India, Sweden and the United States for over 40 years has had a profound influence on the work of wife and husband artists Indira and Karl Johnson. They met at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the late sixties and as their work evolved over the next four decades, their individual thoughts and ideas have migrated back and forth appearing in different forms in each other’s art.

Upward MobilityIndira grew up in Mumbai, heavily influenced by her artist father and social activist mother. After completing her undergraduate education in Mumbai, she received a fellowship to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her MFA and met Karl.  Indira is a sculptor. Her pieces explore the constant process of transformation using reclaimed objects—things discarded by society. Her fascination for these abandoned objects has grown over the years leading her to question the issues of permanence and decay, strength and vulnerability.

Karl grew up in a world of forestry and art in the small town of Libertyville, Ill. During his time at Chicago Academy of Fine Arts he studied cartooning and that influence can still be seen in his work today. Subsequently he received his BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and later traveled to India to marry Indira, start a family and continue his education in Mumbai. Their early years together were nomadic, moving from India to Sweden when Karl received a grant to study at the University of Lund and three years later to Colorado when he transferred to the University of Denver.

DSC_0013Over the years, Karl has developed several distinct techniques using multiple layers of paint to achieve his vision. Inspired by nature, his paintings incorporate the rhythm and beauty, chaos and inconsistencies of the dynamic systems found in nature and the sciences. Embracing the surreal qualities of the East and West, Karl combines them with a metaphorical blending of humanity and nature in a world of contradictions.

Both Karl and Indira use objects thrown out by society to create new creative pieces that explore the constant process of transformation in the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. These commonly found objects in their altered state have a renewed energy, one which still retains vestiges of its original identity yet containing different qualities as well—figurative, conceptual and experiential.

Please note that the gallery that features the above special exhibit may be closed for events. If you are making a special trip to the Swedish American Museum to view this exhibit, please call ahead to confirm that the gallery will be open during the time of your visit.

Coming Exhibits:

“Skål! Scandinavian Spirits,” Friday, April 1 to Sunday, June 19

Denmark, Norway and Sweden share a “spirited” tradition of enjoying beer and aquavit–sometimes together, sometimes separately. This exhibition explores the cultural history of these beverages, follows those drinking traditions to Scandinavian-American communities, and answers questions like “What is aquavit, anyway?” and “How do you ‘skål’ correctly?” Fun, informative, and engaging, this exhibition is curated by the Museum of Danish America in Elk Horn, Iowa.

“Crystal Art from Master Craftsmen Mats Jonasson and Ludwig Löfgren,” Thursday, June 23 to Sunday, Sept. 18

The first glassworks in Målerås, Sweden was founded in 1890. Now 125 years later, the same company continues to produce handmade Swedish crystal sculptures featuring wildlife, florals, Swedish icons and more. This exhibit will feature works by two of the principal artists from Målerås Glasbruk—owner Mats Jonasson and designer Ludvig Löfgren.



General Museum:

  • Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Children's Museum:

  • Monday – Thursday: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Friday : 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

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  • Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Friday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.


  • 5211 N. Clark St.
  • Chicago, IL 60640


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