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Lonni Sue’s Artistic Journey

Explored In Fenimore Exhibit

Pre-2007 works by Lonni Sue Johnson are examined by Todd Kenyon, Fenimore Art Museum director of communications. (Jim Kevlin/
Lonni Sue’s recent works are described as looser, but no less enticing, by the show’s local curator, Chris Rossi.

COOPERSTOWN – “Puzzles of the Brain,” an exhibit that traces the artistic development of Lonni Sue Johnson after she suffered brain damage,  will open tomorrow (Oct. 13) at The Fenimore Art Museum.

The museum is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, except Mondays.

Lonni Sue created New Yorker covers and art for other national publications from her home outside Middlefield Center before being stricken with viral encephalitis in 2007.  While living locally she was an avid pilot, and published a column, “Aerial Perspective,” every other week in The Freeman’s Journal.

A professional illustrator for 31 years, Lonni Sue suffered brain damage and amnesia, and yet her art continued to develop as she underwent therapy at her family’s home in Princeton, N.J.   Her continuing recuperation and artistic production has been written about in Time magazine, the New York Times and other national publications.

Subtitled “An Artist’s Journey Through Amnesia,” the exhibit showcases Lonni Sue’s art before and after her illness, which provided researchers with a rare opportunity to observe the impact of brain damage on the creative process. She continued to write and draw, and the resulting work is described as “the external record of changes in her mental life.”

She was assisted by her mother, Margaret K. Johnson, then 90 and since passed away.  Her sister Aline helped develop the exhibit in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, and was recreated her in collaboration with Fenimore Curator Chris Rossi.  Aline Johnson will be in Cooperstown Nov. 1 to conduct a tour of the exhibit, part of The Fenimore’s “Food for Thought” series.


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