Tony Johnson is an “artivist” (artist-activist) who bridges the realms of creative endeavor, equity and educational policy. At RISD he provides strategic leadership in realizing an environment where advancing inclusion and equity are central to the student experience and where artists and designers develop personally and socioculturally in preparation to enter today’s global contexts.
Johnson’s previous positions at RISD include assistant dean of student affairs, director of Intercultural Student Engagement and admissions officer specializing in the recruitment of underrepresented communities. In addition to working with arts institutions, Johnson serves on regional and national committees and boards dedicated to promoting cultural understanding, systemic reform and human justice.
Johnson is also chair emeritus of RISD’s annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Series. During his tenure as chair, he facilitated a vision and plan for sustainable alliances between arts institutions and justice leaders including Angela Davis, Harry Belafonte, Marian Wright Edelman, Danny Glover, Ambassador Andrew Young and Emory Douglas.
In twenty plus year involvement in the performing arts, Johnson has performed and collaborated with Grammy, Dove, and Stellar award recording artists as well as respected theater companies. Ultimately, he seeks to leverage the universal powers of visual art, music and theater to build communities of understanding and peace.
Johnson holds a BFA from RISD and an MS the University of Rhode Island in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in college student personnel. A Philadelphia native, he is married to Caribbean fine artist and RISD Painting alum Monique Rolle-Johnson and the father of a young-adult drummer.