“INK Beneath the Skin: A Private Collection of Body Art”

6 Mar

“INK Beneath the Skin: A Private Collection of Body Art”
byJ. Michael Johnson


Opened June 25th and continued through August 18th, 2011
At the Pickens County Museum of Art & History

Artist Statement:

“Ink Beneath The Skin: A Private Collection of Body Art”, shows an individual’s personal freedom statement to use their bodies as an art canvas.  For me, it is a part of my photojournalist journey into the motorcycle lifestyle that is so often shied away from by so many civilians and journalists.

Being a freelance journalist for Easyriders Magazine allows me to meet and photograph the tattoos and body piercings that decorate bikers, biker ladies and civilians’ bodies from all over the world in one of my favorite open air studios – Main Street Daytona Beach Florida. What fascinates me the most is that these individuals are from all walks of life and they proudly show me their skin art by removing articles of clothing for me to get that special photo?  Two of my favorites are an American Eagle with the U.S. Flag across a lovely lady’s chest and the Last Supper proudly worn across a biker’s middle section.

I, have historical focused on the Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their riders as they cruise up and down Main Street.  These selections of “Ink Beneath the Skin” images speaks as a culture with-in a society that stands alone as an expression of America’s freedom.


J. Michael was born and raised in East Tennessee and has lived in the southeast United States all his life. He began taking images and working in his darkroom over thirty years ago.  J. Michael’s love of photographing the motorcycle lifestyle and other subjects, and his self-taught methods along with formal courses and in-field seminars with nationally known photographers, have truly defined the subjects he has photographed and written about over the years. These experiences have provided a collection of work that documents bikers and biker ladies riding on Daytona’s Main Street along with the serious side of these riders as they remember the Vietnam era. He captures the images the general public never hears about or sees. J. Michael’s color and black and white photographs capture the Spirit of America and its precious Freedom of Speech. Many of J. Michael’s fine art prints are in private collections.

Since 1997, J. Michael’s photographic and written work about Daytona’s Bike Week, as well as many other motorcycle rallies and events, has been featured many times in “Easyriders”, “Biker” and “In The Wind” magazines. Lehman Trikes of Canada has published J. Michael’s work in their Pride Matters magazine. He has provided commercial photography services to various companies in the motorcycle industry. His renown in motorcycle lifestyle photography has resulted in his giving slide shows to numerous motorcycle clubs, churches and civic groups. His most requested images are of the Vietnam veterans visiting the “Moving Wall” and the “Vietnam Veterans Memorial” in Washington DC during “Rolling Thunder” events.


The Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg SC, presented J. Michael’s “Freedom, In Memory Of Those Who Gave All” Vietnam Era images as a significant part of their “Moving Sculpture 2004, Art of the Motorcycle World” show.  In April 2004, the museum presented this exhibit as a solo show until September 2004 before moving a portion of this collection to the “Art of the Upstate” gallery in the Greenville/Spartanburg International Airport where it stayed until the end of October 2004.Then in May 2007 the Spartanburg Art Museum presented his Bikers: Expression of Freedom a collection of over 120 biker lifestyle and Vietnam Era Images.

The Pickens County Museum showed J. Michael’s Tree-0456, which received a Juror’s Choice Award in there Thirty-Second Annual Juried South Carolina Artists Exhibition, April 30th through June 9th, 2011.

J. Michael is the co-founder of the Spartanburg Photo Guild, a member of the American Image Press/Today’s Photographer Magazine, and served two terms on the Board of Trustees, of The Spartanburg Art Museum, Spartanburg South Carolina.

J. Michael travels to many motorcycle rallies and events and other special places each year. Everyone is welcome to visit J. Michael’s web site JMichael.smugmug.com to see where his photographic travels have taken him recently

 J. Michael Johnson
864-979-6046   phone
Email:    jmjphoto@aol.com
Web Site:   JMichael.smugmug.com


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