Sonja Kelley holds a Ph.D. in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University and a B.A. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the department of Art History, Theory and Criticism as a full-time faculty member in 2012 and teaches courses on East Asian art history.

Before coming to MICA, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and she has also taught at the University of Washington in Seattle and Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington. Her research focuses on Chinese art of the twentieth century. Her dissertation explored the work of government-supported printmakers in Sichuan Province in the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1966. She is also interested in cross-cultural influences in Chinese visual culture and the treatment of gender, race, and ethnicity in Chinese art. She has contributed entries to the catalogue, Remembering Days Gone By: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy at the Seattle Art Museum, co-wrote a chapter on Chinese illustration in the History of Illustration (Fairchild Books, 2018), and is working on other projects related to the interaction of prints and politics in modern and contemporary China.