Sonja Kelley specializes in the visual culture of East Asia from antiquity to the present. She teaches classes on the history of Asian art, with a particular focus on China and Japan.


Her research primarily explores the visual culture of China in the modern and contemporary periods, considering the interaction of art and politics in the conceptualization of the nation and its citizens. Her current book project examines 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 online catalog, Remembering Days Gone By: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy at the Seattle Art Museum, co-wrote a chapter on Chinese illustration in History of Illustration (Fairchild Books, 2018), and is working on other projects related to propaganda and prints in modern and contemporary China.

She 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. Before coming to MICA, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and had also been an instructor at the University of Washington in Seattle and Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington.