Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1995-1996 index

Distributed June 11, 1996
Contact: Linda Mahdesian

Conklin named new director of the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown

Jo-Ann Conklin, curator of graphic arts at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, has been named director of the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University, effective July 1, 1996.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Photography historian Jo-Ann Conklin, curator of graphic arts at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA), has been selected as the new director of the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University. Conklin's appointment is effective July 1, 1996. She succeeds Diana Johnson, who served in that position for six years.

"I see Jo-Ann as someone who has a vision of the future and can take tremendous risks," said Wendy Edwards, professor of visual art at Brown and member of the selection committee. "That's important within an educational environment.... She's well aware of what's going on in the world beyond photography and print; she has a strong background in painting and sculpture - a well-rounded eye."

For the last 10 years, Conklin has been UIMA's graphic arts curator, responsible for developing loan and permanent collection exhibitions and for the acquisition and management of the museum's collection of works on paper. That collection includes more than 5,000 prints, photographs, drawings and collages, making it roughly equal in size to the Bell's in-house collections. Conklin also served as editor of the museum's publications, including exhibition catalogs.

A 1976 graduate of the University of Connecticut-Torrington, Conklin went on to Derby, England, to study history and theory of photography and film at the Derby Lonsdale College of Art and Technology. She earned her B.F.A. in photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and her master's degree in art history from the University of Iowa's School of Art and Art History. Her thesis was titled "Decoding Baraket: Eikoh Hosoe's Photographic Portrait of Yukio Mishima." While still a graduate student, she worked as assistant curator of graphic arts at UIMA, and was then promoted to curator a year after receiving her degree.

During her tenure at UIMA, Conklin has curated nearly 40 exhibitions, ranging from prints and paintings to photography, sculpture, woodcuts and engravings. Prior to her curatorial career, she worked as the registrar of collections at UIMA, as a teaching assistant in art history at the University of Iowa, and as an intern at the Smithsonian Institute's Museum of History and Technology, Department of Photographic History.

Conklin's strength in photography is a good match for the Bell Gallery, according to Johnson, the outgoing director. "We're getting known for our photography shows," said Johnson. "There aren't many shows of that kind at other institutions."

In addition to her work at UIMA, Conklin has lectured extensively on the history of photography. She has organized numerous symposia, including "Photography in the Marketplace: The Rise of an Art Form" in 1989. That particular symposium was in honor of the sesquicentennial of the invention of photography.