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Vanessa Johnson


Vanessa Johnson is a Griot - a Storyteller in the West African Tradition. She is an actress, playwright, writer, fiber artist, vocalist, museum consultant and community educator.

Ms. Johnson has performed widely in New York State, in the United States and in Ghana, Africa. She has told at Universities and Colleges, museums and libraries, schools and churches, festivals, street corners and at the N.Y. State Fair. Ms. Johnson tells stories that lends her Voice to the Traditional Tales of Africa, and to the connective tales of the African Diaspora.

Her Tales of Social Justice include the Defiant Voices of the Underground Railroad, the Strident Wails of the Women's Rights Movement, the Persistent Shouts of the Civil Rights Movement, the Outraged Chants of the Earth Justice Movement, and the Whispered Screams of Modern Day Human Trafficking. Ms. Johnson uses Mixed Media Story Quilts, collages and fiber sculptures to give a visual form to her storytelling programs. Her literary band Matie Masie, (an adinkra symbol from Ghana, West Africa that means "I listen and I understand") sings stories to the notes of Jazz, R&B, and Hip Hop.

Vanessa Johnson's Harambee Youth Tent offers fine crafts based on art forms from the African Diaspora, along with African Drum Circles and workshops by a variety of Arts of Color, at schools, festivals, private celebrations and at community events. Ms. Johnson teaches Storytelling at the YMCA Downtown Writer's Project and is currently working on a Novel and Children's Book Series. Her play, "Doors" is being produced by Syracuse's Paul Roberson Theater in May of 2013.

Telephone: 315 420-0152