Asian Arts | Exhibitions | Survival of the Spirit

Nancy Jo Johnson

#17-Sera Monastery
Sera Monastery, 1993 (#17)

Nancy Jo Johnson has traveled and photographed extensively throughout Southeast Asia. She lived in Kathmandu, Nepal for four years. During this time she met Tibetan refugees and learned of their plight as a result of the 1959 Chinese invasion. Captivated by the character of the Tibetan people, their culture and devout Buddhist religion, she has been involved with Tibetan issues since returning to the US in 1985. Her first visit to Tibet was in 1987 and most recently in 1993. She is a member of the board of directors of the United States Tibet Committee, is President of the Palden Sakya Center and has been a crusader for the Tibetan cause for over 15 years. She has produced a number of stories about the culture and religion of the area for National Geographic and LIFE magazine. One of them, LIFE's "The Reincarnation of Ling," received the prestigious award for Best Picture Story of the Year in 1995 from the Missouri School of Journalism. In the fall of1997 her own photographs tell the story of a child escapee in a book, Our Journey from Tibet, A True Story (Dutton Press). Last fall she photographed and wrote a 10 page story published also in LIFE on her own escape with three children from Tibet. Most recently she was sponsored by Witness and International Campaign for Tibet to go to India and digitally record harrowing accounts of recent arrivals from Tibet which were then posted daily on ICT's website. The site received more than six commendations and awards from various web-based sources including Mining Co., Yahoo!, Netscape, Webtrips, and the oscar of the web world entitled the Webbie. Presently she is producing a photographic book that includes14 photographers whom have documented different aspects of the Tibetan diaspora in North America. She lives and works in New York city.

#13-West Tibet, 1993
West Tibet, 1993 (#13)

Nancy Jo Johnson trained as a botanist at the University of Wisconsin, doing her masters study in the Himalayas. She lived in Nepal for four years, working as a researcher and trek leader, and it was there that the Tibetan cause first seized her imagination, beginning with the personal and enlarging to the political. "I met my first Tibetan friend at a refugee community in Nepal, " she says. "Ama-La was a survivor of the Chinese occupation who had lost her husband and children when fleeing Tibet. And yet, Ama-La had an inner peacefulness, generosity and warmth that profoundly influenced me. Since then, I have devoted much of my life to learning about the religion, culture and plight of this displaced people. For me, "Survival of the Spirit" represents the union of struggle and faith, to keep the delicate balance between preserving one's inner strength and not losing faith against all odds. The Tibetans inside Tibet can no longer practice their religion freely, the Tibetans in exile can practice their religious approach to life without political encumbrance.... in both cases the spirit struggles to survive.

You can e-mail Nancy Jo Johnson at .

Asian Arts | Exhibitions | Survival of the Spirit

text and images © Nancy Jo Johnson