Marie Johnson-Calloway was born Marie Edwards on April 10, 1920, in Pimlico, Maryland. Johnson-Calloway attended an all girls’ high school in Baltimore, Maryland, and received her teaching certificate from Coppin Teachers College in Baltimore in 1939. Receiving her B.A. degree from Morgan State University in 1952, Johnson-Calloway would later earn her M.F.A. degree from San Jose State University in California. In 1975, Johnson-Calloway received her doctoral equivalency degree from San Francisco State University.
During the early 1950s, Johnson-Calloway traveled around the United States with her first husband, U.S. Air Force doctor Arthur Johnson. While Johnson was stationed in Alaska, Johnson-Calloway held her first art exhibit. After Johnson-Calloway’s husband left the service, her family moved to San Jose, California, where she was hired as the first African American public school teacher in San Jose. Continuing to paint while running San Jose’s Mecca Art Gallery, Johnson-Calloway later became an art teacher for the Santa Clara School District. In 1969, Johnson-Calloway became an assistant professor at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and San Jose State University. From 1973 to 1983, Johnson-Calloway worked as an associate professor in the art department of the San Francisco State University.
Johnson-Calloway’s paintings, based on her memories of life in the South, have been exhibited throughout the United States and Japan. Some of Johnson-Calloway’s exhibits included Hope Street: Church Mothers, Mama’s Room, Passages, and Marie Johnson-Calloway On Stage: A Retrospective, 1950-1999. Many of Johnson-Calloway’s creations are part of permanent museum collections and private collections. A sought after presenter and lecturer, Johnson-Calloway received awards from the Women’s Caucus for the arts of Northern California, the San Francisco Library Foundation Award, the Pioneers of African American Art, and the National Women’s Caucus for the Arts.
Johnson-Calloway passed away on February 11, 2018 at age 97.