Redefining Kitsch with Destini Johnson


 When Destini Johnson started studying in the art department, using glitter was taboo. After growing more comfortable with her skills, the senior art major decided to break the rules — glitter and rhinestones are now a staple in her work. Her original style has even caught the attention of Jeff Hughes, director of the Cecille R. Hunt Gallery and art professor. Hughes and his wife, Webster professor Terri Reilly, now own a custom door Johnson worked on for months.


The Ampersand: What kind of artist are you?


Destini Johnson: I have become a multimedia artist — I use glitter, spray paint, sequins, confetti and stuff like that. I portray a lot of women in my work; a lot of women of color. I feel like women of color are often portrayed in a negative way by the media, so I like to show them in a different light. In a lot of my paintings, the women are goddesses, queens and princesses.


Amp: What do you like about using glitter in your work?destini_object


DJ: My glitter acts like a voice for me — it demands attention. It always catches your eye. When I first started, glitter was a taboo thing and people said not to use it because it would annoy certain people. It was nerve-wracking at first because I thought that was going to be the case and everyone was going to hate it, but I’ve gotten to a point where I can use it and not be too crazy with it.


Amp: Where do you get your originality from?


DJ: Growing up, I would always see my older sister draw and I think that’s where it started. As I got older, I would start copying from other artists and seeing if I could make mine look anything close to theirs. I also listen to a lot of music and sometimes it will put me in this mood to paint something that matches what I’m hearing.


Amp: Where do you see yourself five or ten years from now?


DJ: I hope to see myself in more galleries because that’s always a big thing as an artist — expanding your work into places where people actually see it instead of just sitting in your studio all day.


Amp: If you weren’t painting, what would you be doing?


DJ: When I’m not doing art, I’m still doing art. I think it would be really cool to learn how to sew and make my own clothes because I always liked to embellish things.

Story: Melissa Buelt

Photo: Jeannie Liautaud

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