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Kathryn Johnson Fund and Kathryn Johnson Jazz Scholarship Fund
By Jean Cohoon / March 25, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
The late Kathryn Johnson, an independent artist, knew from a very early age what she wanted to do in life. Her niece, Marion Leonard, shares that on an application for an exhibition of her works, Kathryn had written, “When I was six years old, I said without hesitation, I wanted to go to Rhode Island School of Design.”

“She was always very clear about what she wanted to do,” Marion says of her aunt who graduated from Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1941. “She was very exacting, very precise, and was very definite in her views. She also was very thoughtful, considerate, generous, and loyal to her friends,” Marion recalls.

Born in East Providence, Kathryn was the youngest of five children of Armenian immigrants from Turkey. After graduating from RISD, she took continuing education and foreign language classes at Brown University, as well art classes at Newport Art Museum, Providence East Side Art Center, Art Students League in New York City, and Summer School of Painting in Provincetown, MA.

Kathryn worked in many mediums and forms throughout her nearly 73 years as an abstract expressionist: stained glass, oils, printmaking, collages, chalks and oil-based crayons, papermaking, textile and wallpaper design, and silk screens.

“She was always captivated by what she didn’t know. She was truly a lifelong learner,” Marion shares.

Kathryn created two funds at the Foundation through her estate plan. The Kathryn Johnson Fund will provide travel and study opportunities, with an emphasis on residential retreats, for visual artists. “Early on in her career, Kathryn didn’t have uninterrupted time to pursue her art. She couldn’t travel as much as she would have liked,” Marion says, noting that Kathryn became her mother’s caregiver.

The second fund, the Kathryn Johnson Jazz Scholarship Fund, is designated for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and Music School for scholarships for the instrumental study of jazz. “Kathryn always liked jazz and classical music and had a friend who was a jazz musician. With Kathryn’s love of learning, scholarships were a natural for her,” Marion states.
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