India Johnson

“16 Threads.”

In the early modern period, bills, receipts, and letters were filed with a needle and thread. In fact, the word ‘file’ comes from filium, the latin word for thread. Those early filing systems inspired this piece. The ‘files’ you see here include letters I've received--but interspersed with swatches of handmade paper, fabric, and leather, sorted by color and size. This is a filing system which describes information as both fragmentary and tangible. What messages might materials send? What information is encoded in decoration?


Sanctuary Installation, installed at Sanctuary Church in Iowa City.

Inspired by medieval manuscripts, this artwork assumes the margin to be an active and essential space. It suggests that the most beautiful, enduring, and useful page designs clear space at the edges: space for new comments on our most treasured texts.


"Hammer is the Prayer." 

"Hammer is the Prayer" references a poem by Christian Wiman.

The piece layers all the individual laments in the book of Psalms onto the same surface--as well as all the songs of trust. Most of the Psalms are classified as laments. A book is a compression of information.
Typewriting on muslin; each "page" measures approximately 10 x 14 inches.


Thread Library installation at the Iowa City Public Library. @thread_library_

What is Thread Library? Thread Library is an artwork. It consists of a collection of donated threads, with a card catalog. Each thread is cataloged as if it were a book.

What is Thread Library about? Our collections speak to the fragmentary character of information, the subjective nature of systems for organizing information, and the theory that a book is a compression of information.