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Art & Art History
University of Mississippi

Julie Novarese Pierotti – Alumna Spotlight

Martha R. Robinson Curator, Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Hometown: Memphis, TN
BA in Art History, minor in English (2005)
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Why did you select art history as your major?
I was fortunate enough to be able to take an art history course in high school and I fell in love with it.  I loved studying world history through the works of art that each culture has produced.  So I knew even before I started college that I wanted to major in art history.

What are some significant/favorite memories from your time at UM?
So many memories!  Dr. Dewey was my advisor, and he was one of the kindest and most supportive professors I had at Ole Miss.  He taught me about so many artists I hadn’t yet known, including two of my favorites, Tamara de Lempicka and Yves Klein.  I also really enjoyed classes taught by Dr. Crouther, Dr. Wicker, and Dr. Sisson.

Please describe your educational/career trajectory since graduation from UM.
After graduating from Ole Miss with my BA in art history, I did a summer internship at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens before entering Vanderbilt University for graduate school.  Throughout my time in Nashville, I volunteered at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts (now Frist Art Museum), and I really enjoyed learning about all aspects of a mid-size museum.  After graduating from Vanderbilt, I moved back to Memphis, and in the fall of 2007, I was hired as a curatorial assistant at the Dixon. 

I have worked my way up from there, and now hold an endowed position as the Martha R. Robinson Curator.  I am very grateful to everyone who has mentored me along the way!  One highlight for me in this position was the opening of my 2018 exhibition, The Real Beauty: The Artistic World of Eugenia Errazuriz.  So many people came to Memphis for the opening of the show, including the Chilean ambassador to the United States, Juan-Gabriel Valdes.  What an honor!  I will never forget it.

What is the value of studying art history in today’s world? 
Art history, particularly the art museum “arm” of art history, helps people learn about the history and breadth of human creativity, and also a little bit about themselves.  Art offers us a chance to pause and to consider things about the work of art, the person who made it, and how we feel when we see it.  It is really a privilege to help people gain more access to works of art made throughout history and in our very own communities.  The more art we take in, the more enriched our lives can be!