Social Justice Artist/Photographer


Tonika Lewis Johnson

Photographer/Social Justice Artist, Chicago, IL

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Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist/photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, often explores urban segregation and documents the nuance and richness of the black community. As a trained photojournalist and teaching artist, she has been engaged in building an artistic legacy that gained citywide recognition in the last two years. She was featured in Chicago Magazine as a 2017 Chicagoan of the Year for her photography of Englewood's everyday beauty, countering its pervasive media coverage of poverty and crime. Her Englewood-based photography projects "From the INside," and "Everyday Rituals," were exhibited at Rootwork Gallery in Pilsen, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Harold Washington Library Center and at Loyola University's Museum of Art (LUMA). Her current ongoing project, Folded Map, visually investigates disparities among Chicago residents while bringing them together to have a conversation, was also exhibited at LUMA last year. She transformed this project into an advocacy and policy-influencing tool that invites audiences to open a dialogue and question how we are all socially impacted by racial and institutional conditions that segregate the city. Most recently, she was named one of Field Foundation’s 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago.


Juror at Platforms Fund
June 1, 2019 – July 21, 2019 New Orleans, LA
Program Manager at Resident Assc. of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E)
October 2017 – December 2018 6620 S Union
Summer 2017 Photographer Fellow at City Bureau
June 28, 2017 – September Chicago, IL
Program Manager at Growing Home, Inc.
April 2012 – October 2017 Chicago, IL
Photography Teaching Artist at Changing Worlds
2011 – 2014 Chicago, IL
Co-Founder & Lead Teacher at Media-N-Motion Englewood Journalism Program
January 2011 – September 2011 Chicago, IL


MBA at National-Louis University
2003 – 2005 Chicago, IL
BA in Print Journalism & Photography at Columbia College Chicago
1997 – 2003 Chicago, IL


Images & Voices Of Hope (ivoh) Fellow, Images & Voices of Hope
Propeller Fund Grantee, Propeller Fund
2019 Leaders For A New Chicago, Field Foundation
May 2018
Emerging Leader Award, Changing Worlds
2017 Chicagoan of the Year, Chicago Magazine
Individual Artist Program Grant, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Magnum Foundation’s SEE POTENTIAL Fellow, Magnum Foundation


Envisioning Justice at Sullivan Galleries at the SAIC, Chicago, IL
July-Oct 2018
Folded Map at Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL
Feb-June 2018
Everyday Englewood at Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, IL
October 2017
Altar Call: The Architecture of Black Sacred Space at Rootwork Gallery, Chicago, IL
August 2017
Shoot yr Shot: Evolution of Chicago’s Street Art + Culture at Rootwork, Chicago, IL
April 2017
Englewood Arts Collective at 2017 OPEN Engagement Conference: JUSTICE, University of Illinois at Chicago
April 2017
From The INside at Harold Washington Library 8th FL Exhibit Space, Chicago, IL
March 2017
Chicago: Places, People & Possibilities at Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago, IL
Feb 2017
Everyday Rituals at Rootwork Gallery, Chicago, IL
Oct 2016
First Annual Englewood Art Fair at Hamilton Park, Chicago, IL
June 2016
Urban Geographic at La Petite Cremiere de Paris, Paris, France
Black Pearls Exhibition at Garfield Park Arts Center (GPAC), Indianapolis, IN
WBEZ 3rd Annual Winter Block Party for Chicago’s Hip-Hop Art at Chicago Urban Arts Society, Chicago, IL
Urban Geographic Experience at The Movement Studios & Gallery, Chicago, IL