Kelly Johnson was born and raised in Houston, TX. She received her BA in Art History with a concentration in contemporary art and feminist theory from Southwestern University in 2012. During her time at SU she participated in the New York Arts Program (NYAP), interning with the Whitney Museum of American Art in the membership department and the Feminist Art Center at the Brooklyn Museum in the curatorial department. Her favorite classes at SU were “Art Since 1945” and “Theories and Methods of Art History,” with Dr. Kimberly Smith, as well as Abstract Painting and “Stories We Live By” Paideia with Dr. Helene Meyers. 

After graduating from SU, she knew she wanted to continue her education in graduate school, but wasn’t sure what path to follow. She took a year off to explore alternatives to traditional art history master’s degrees and spent a lot of time reading through the College Art Association’s Graduate Program Directories, following up on universities’ websites as well as traveling to scope out various programs’ staff, students, and facilities in person. She visited several Curatorial Studies/Practice programs in California and on the East Coast.

Wanting to get a more hands on learning experience with artists, art, and audiences, she decided to participate in Maryland Institute College of Art’s (MICA) Curatorial Practice MFA (CPMFA) program in Baltimore, MD. The two year program is the first MFA in Curatorial Practice in the country and trains future curators to connect art, artists, and communities with relevant, timely, and accessible exhibitions and projects. Read more about the program and completed projects here.
Almost through the first year in the program, she feels that the sum of her experience at SU prepared her for her time in graduate school. Her advice to students is to explore interests outside of their major, and to connect what they’re learning in class to the practice of their everyday lives. 
The CPMFA program at MICA presents students with real world challenges in exhibition-making. She is currently working on her thesis exhibition, exploring art as a tool for spiritual expression and emotional healing. Read more about Kelly’s work and experiences here, and send her an email at

Update: Kelly recently learned that she was awarded the Elizabeth Stafford Hutchinson Endowed Internship, in the Publications and Marketing/Communications Departments at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She will be working there this summer.