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Julia Dolan

Julia Donlan '93, the curator of photography at the Portland Art Museum

BFA, Photography

Class of 1993

from: Montréal, Québec, Canada

"I like the way different photographs talk to each other by juxtaposition." 

MICA alumna Dr. Julia Dolan, PhD, recently took a position as curator of photography at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, but her journey there has been a long, winding road. The country was in a recession when she graduated from MICA in 1993 with a degree in photography. After assisting an architectural photographer and teaching photography to elementary school students part time, Dolan took a full-time job doing customer service for an airline. But old loves die hard. "I missed the art world a lot," Dolan said. "In the six years that I was away, I figured out how I could participate in the art world in a way that was comfortable for me. That's how I decided on art history."

After earning her master's degree at Pennsylvania State University and doctorate from Boston University, Dolan received fellowships at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC; the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Research Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. While in Philadelphia, Dolan applied for the position of curator of photography for the Portland Art Museum, a position she began in June 2010. Although she loves working with photographers and people in the community, what she likes most about her role is "spending time with the objects that I studied for so long," she said. In doing so, she gets to decide what those objects mean to her, a level of independent thinking she credits MICA with helping her to cultivate. "It's all about the object and figuring out why it's important and why people should see it and learn about it," she added.