I’m Clyde Johnson, better known as Ce J’ai (my mom’s spelling) to my family and friends. In French, Ce J’ai roughly translates to “what I have or I have this” which seems very appropriate if you have one of my designs. Welcome to my web space, let me tell you a little about me and my work.
For seven years I explored metals fabrication at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) Jewelry Center in Baltimore, MD, earning my certificate in Jewelry Design in 2014. My love of casting and stone setting was birthed by Shana Kroiz, Jewelry Designer/Teacher; but my "consciousness work" has been nurtured and emboldened by my mentor Joyce J. Scott. She taught me that oversize, bold and Black isn't a bad thing - it's a necessary creative thing to deliver to the world - the uniqueness that has been in our DNA for centuries. I love to create work, not as an accent for people, but I love to use people's bodies as the canvas to display my work, they are the accent.

I wanted to be a mortician when I was a young child but was told by my parents that I had to earn a four-year degree first. I earned a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology and started my career as a psychologist, but never lost my love for death culture. Over the years, my practice has been about creating reliquaries and memorials to Black and African ancestors, particularly those lost by racial violence. Recently I received my African Ancestry DNA results and found out that part of my family origins is from Gabon in West African, a culture steeped in creating reliquaries. It was a shock and an eye opener to discover that my artist practice binds me to an African country l've never seen but somehow the tradition is flowing through my veins, the artwork, the reliquaries, the honoring of ancestors, documenting our lives... all steeped in my DNA.

My greatest honors to date are to be in the private collection of Giselle Huberman, JRA President, and to be selected to showcase "A Tree Remembers" my large body sculpture work which is a homage to lynching stories of African Americans at the Smithsonian Institute's Renwick Collection reopening ceremony in 2015. In 2021, the PBS Show - Craft in America, documented jewelry work and design. The show featured a segment honoring the legacy of Art Smith. In the show, Joyce J. Scott was a special guest, and I had the privilege of being in the segment with her critiquing my work in my studio.
Back to Top