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Katherine Johnson by Victoria Villasana

Part of the Powerful Female series, Victoria Villasana celebrates black history month with a portrait of Katherine Johnson; a woman famous for being one of the first African-American women to work for NASA as a scientist. While the triangular puzzle embroidered from a pair of red glasses might appear random, it is really a reflection of the portrait’s subject – for Johnson’s study of geometry had great influence on the success of the first moon landing.

Villansana’s portfolio is a unique way of celebrating pop culture and historical figures. Contrast between monochrome and a colourful palette of embroidery is her signature style, effectively bringing a sense of personality and individuality to an otherwise powerful portrait. Her chosen method of working is unique in the sense that she describes it as ‘painting with yarn’, being inspired particularly by the relationship between textile and traditional artistic methods.

Katherine Johnson is a piece that well-represents Villasana’s interests; for she merges together multiple worlds of history, feminism, politics and art. The juxtapositions between subject matter and artistic licence may be considered a stereotype for the female artist, however, Villasana’s work presents itself to be much more than that.

Words by Chloe Copley