The former Philadelphia School District art teacher and founder of C.A.N.V.A.S., Steven Z. Johnson Sr. M.A., was an artist for over 40 years and a paraplegic for 30 years. Steven's ability to express himself artistically has allowed him to thrive financially and emotionally in spite of hardship. Just a few of his achievements include commissioned illustration for PA Legal Handbook for the disabled, Memorial US postage stamp, and various magazine/book covers. Mr. Johnson's adroitness as an artist has led to his receiving awards and citations from the U.S.Congress, Secretary Tom Ridge, Governer Ed Rendell, Councilwoman Marion Tasco and others. He has worked with a variety of organizations including Shriners Hospital, Magee Rehabilitation Center, Masonic Order, Universities, religious groups, Juvenile Detention Centers, Prisons and Schools in order to reach out to the community through his unique artistic talents. The collaborative theme of Steven Johnsons Sr. career is reflected in his unique approach to using art to overcome societal challenges through partnership.
Steven attributes his ability to thrive in spite of adversity to his faith, his family and his passion for art. He wanted to give at risk youth the key that helped him open the door to a great future... Artistic Expression! For Steven, the arts are therapy, recreation, spiritual, pure and most of all fun. In developing C.A.N.V.A.S. Philadelphia, he said, "Life gives you a canvas... you create the rest!"