Naomi Johnson, 2023 Finalist

Naomi Johnson, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear clan from Six Nations, has worked in the arts for 17 years as a curator/programmer and arts administrator. Since June 2020 she has served as Executive Director for imagineNATIVE, continuing to support Indigenous talent and arts workers within film and media arts.

Read more below about 2023 award finalist Naomi Johnson and her thoughts on being recognized this year.

In your own words, can you describe your practice and why you're drawn to the art you do?

I've always been an artist, and I was lucky enough to have my talent recognized at a young age; I had excellent teachers and mentors in my life who encouraged me. It wasn't until I was older and stepped through the doors of the Woodland Cultural Centre that I ever considered arts administration as a career. I liked the idea of being a part of something larger, someone who could create space and foster good experiences for artists and arts workers. I've been mindful to chose organizations that I could dedicate my heart and time to. The arts are a way we connect in a deeply human way, to celebrate creativity, passion, tell truths and share stories. A life without the arts isn't worth living.

Tell us what it means to be recognized as a Toronto Arts Foundation Award finalist.

To be recognized as a finalist for this award is unreal. I'm humbled and grateful that what I've been doing has been recognized in such a way. It is a good reminder that what I'm doing has meant something to someone. It is an incredible feeling. I'm thankful to those who made the paths that lead me here.