Janie Welker is curator of collections and exhibitions at the University of Kentucky Art Museum in Lexington. She was lured there by the Robert C. May Photography Endowment, which provides purchase funds that allows her to shape the collection, while also supporting an annual lecture series that has featured artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Catherine Opie, Stephanie Syjuco, Teju Cole, Eugene Richards, and Carl Corey.
She recently organized the major exhibition Ralph Eugene Meatyard: Stages for Being, focusing on the artist’s innovations in constructed photography. She also contributed the main essay for a related book, which also includes contributions by Emmet Gowin, Duane Michals, Andrea Modica and others.
Welker received an M.A. in art history and critical theory at the State University of New York at Stony Brook; a B.A. in Journalism from Penn State University; and a Rotary International Journalism Fellowship to study early photography and art history at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Her first full-time job was staff photographer for the Lebanon Daily News in the small Pennsylvania town that she spent her formative years plotting her escape. She worked as a reporter and editor for 12 years there and elsewhere before becoming a curator.
Prior to coming to UK in 2005, she was a collections assistant at the International Center of Photography in New York and spent eight years at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington, Long Island, advancing from curatorial assistant to curator of collections.