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INTERVIEW

Dr. JILL DEUPI JD, PhD

Director AND Chief Curator at Lowe Art Museum


Dr. Jill Deupi is the Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator of the Lowe Art Museum (University of Miami). Prior to assuming this position in 2014, Dr. Deupi was Director and Chief Curator of University Museums at Fairfield University, where she was also an Assistant Professor of Art History.

Dr. Jill Deupi is the Beaux Arts Director and Chief Curator of the Lowe Art Museum (University of Miami). Prior to assuming this position in 2014, Dr. Deupi was Director and Chief Curator of University Museums at Fairfield University, where she was also an Assistant Professor of Art History.

We are so excited to partner with Lowe Art Museum, (University of Miami) this year as PULSE Art Fair celebrates its 15th anniversary in Miami! Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your role at the museum, as well as your journey throughout the arts?

I celebrated my fifth year of service at the Lowe in August 2019. Prior to that time, I was with Fairfield University (Fairfield, CT), where I was the founding director of their Bellarmine Museum or Art (now known as Fairfield University Art Museums) and a member of their Art History faculty. My journey through the arts was somewhat unusual since, after receiving my BA from Mount Holyoke College in French Literature and Political Science, I earned a law degree at American University’s Washington College of Law. After being admitted to the Commonwealth of Virginia Bar Association, I decided to retool and then spent the better part of a decade earning both an MA (Birkbeck College, University of London) and a PhD (University of Virginia) in Art History. Along the way, I was fortunate enough to have gained professional experience at the Royal Academy of Arts; the Wallace Collection; University of Notre Dame’s Snite Art Museum; the Art Institute of Chicago; and the National Gallery (DC).

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What makes the Miami art scene so unique and why is it important for Lowe to partner with organizations like PULSE to have a presence during Miami Art Week every year?

Miami is like no other place in the US. A gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean as well as, increasingly, the rest of the world, the Lowe’s hometown is tremendously diverse and cosmopolitan. When you combine these factors with the remarkable interest in contemporary art and culture that has defined our city for the past twenty or so years, the result is a very heady brew indeed. I feel that Miami’s relative youth also works in its favor. It is a place where innovative thinking and novel ideas flourish because it is not as rule- or tradition-bound as older, more well-established cities. Being a part of the Miami’s burgeoning art scene—and partnering with organizations like PULSE—is critically important to maintaining the Lowe’s relevance. Such undertakings equally advance our mission by ensuring that we are keeping our finger on the proverbially pulse (pun intended) and aligning our projects and programs with broader trends and movements in the art world and throughout Miami, all of which benefits our many constituencies.

As one of the first fairs in Miami to garner worldwide attention on the art scene, how do you differentiate PULSE from other activities that Lowe participates in during Miami Art Week?

One of the aspects that I enjoy most about PULSE is its scale. The organization’s show is comprehensive but not overwhelming. I also find the quality to be consistently high, making it a pleasure to visit and engage with participating gallerists, curators, artists, and other thought leaders in the contemporary art world.

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could you TELL us One of your favorite memories at the fair?

My fondest memory dates to December 2014, which was my first visit to PULSE. The fair had just moved to its new mid-Beach location and I remember the sense of relative tranquility governing the scene. It really was an “oasis of calm in the rough seas of Miami Art Week….”

How has access to the Internet and various social media channels affected the art-viewing experience overall? How has your role shifted in response?

There is no denying that digital technology has caused seismic shifts in how we engage with art, whether as students, specialists, scholars, collectors, aficionados, or professionals in the commercial sector. A virtually limitless supply of information is now at our fingertips, enabling users not only to learn more about specific artists, topics, movements, etc that already interest them but also to discover new ones. In a very real sense, then, the internet has not only leveled the playing field but also expanded it enormously. The Lowe is proactively leaning into these changes by having an active web and social media presence. We also recently hired a new Director of Digital Experience (with generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation) to enhance the visitor experience in our galleries and in the digital realm.

Are there any topics in the contemporary art discourse and market that are of particular interest to you right now? Any trends you see coming?

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I continue to be fascinated by efforts to inject the art world—and museums in particular—with a healthy dose of social justice. I feel that, though we all still have a long way to go, some progress has been made. The voices that I haven’t yet seen well-represented yet, however, and that I suspect will increasingly garner attention are those of Indigenous Peoples, both in North America and further afield. At least I hope my prediction is correct.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Do not be afraid.

Where is your favorite place to relax and find peace of mind? 

The beach is always a welcome respite (particularly on Florida’s Gulf Coast) but my daily dose of solace comes from running.

What are you currently reading/watching?

READING: Mary Gabriel’s The Women of Ninth Street; Peter Schjeldahl’s Hot, Cold, Heavy, Light, 100 Art Writings 1988-2018; and Michael Shnayerson’s Boom.

WATCHING: Documentaries and biopics are my guilty pleasure.


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