Hillary Johnson is a multidisciplinary artist who works in photography, video, handmade books, and immersive multimedia installations. She’s interested in the tension between heartache and beauty; grief and joy; and longing and belonging that underpin the human condition. Her work and research have their roots in twin threads of anxiety: a global cultural anxiety which developed in during the industrial age in the mid-1800's, expanding exponentially in the Anthropocene era as our complicity in climate change was revealed, as well as her own quite personal existential concerns. Her work engages the body in the process of coming to know a place through slow walking and mindful observation. Johnson’s photographs of the landscape and portraiture examine drastic upheavals that transform or destroy delicate beauty in both the environment and in humankind. She believes that photography can be part of an expansive exploration of empathy, consciousness, and connection for positive social and cultural change.  

Johnson is an MFA Candidate in Photography at Columbia College Chicago where she also serves as a Curatorial and Education Assistant at the Museum of Contemporary Photography. She is recipient of an Albert P. Weisman Award, and Thall-Mulvany Awards for her work creating immersive installations that explore ways in which art and science may be a critical piece of how we create a more loving and compassionate world. Her work has been featured in the 2nd Quanzhou International Image Biennale at the Fujulian Huanguang Photography Art Museum, Hüten Gallery in Shanghai, China, Image Union, Pasadena Photo Arts, The Chicago Reader, National Public Radio, NBC News, A Photo Editor, and Frontrunner Magazine. Her works have been exhibited across the United States and internationally.  

She is the creator of, “The Waters We Swim In,” a global movement for self-love and compassion, grounded in a process of transformative water-based portrait sessions that invite subjects to feel greater kindness and compassion for themselves while recognizing their place in the great pattern of things. 

She invites you to follow her on Instagram @hillary_irene_the_photographer

Want to talk? Please contact her via email.

View her CV