An interdisciplinary artist from Philadelphia is the new executive director at SPACE Gallery in Portland. The gallery’s directors will announce the hiring of Kelsey Halliday Johnson on Thursday morning.

Kelsey Halliday Johnson

Johnson, 31, lives in Philadelphia and works as a curator in photography and new media at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Last year, she received a Pew Center for Arts & Heritage grant for her project “Making/Breaking the Binary: Women, Art & Technology (1968-1985),” a survey of women artists who pioneered technology in the 1970s in music, computer animation and video art.

She begins at SPACE on Aug. 9, and will return to Philadelphia in the fall to present her Pew-funded project at Vox Populi, an artist-run gallery in Philadelphia where she is a member.

Vox Populi and SPACE have a history of collaboration, and it was through those exchanges that Johnson learned about SPACE. “It seems like a very natural fit with the kind of work I am interested in, and a kindred organization,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday night. “I’ve loved Maine for a long time, and the opportunity to live in a landscape that I love and be part of an organization that truly is focused on things that I have been working at for many years in Philadelphia is an exciting opportunity.”

Johnson was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey. She visited Maine often as a kid, and has returned because of art-world connections – and to camp. She celebrated New Year’s Eve in a yurt in Turner a few years ago, and hiked on New Year’s Day at nearby Androscoggin Riverlands State Park.

Johnson is an alumna of the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University, and received an interdisciplinary master’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania with a certificate in landscape architecture. She earned her bachelor’s degree in art and archaeology from Princeton University.

She describes herself as a “keenly interdisciplinary practicing artist” with a focus on photography and media. She’s also worked as a painter and sculptor, and in music, performance and film. “In the arts and all creative fields, there are specialists and there are generalists. I am certainly a generalist,” she said.

She wants to use her skills and experience to help further SPACE’s mission of supporting artists in a range of fields. She was impressed with the gallery’s board of directors, and said she was inspired by their commitment to artists and SPACE’s role in supporting them.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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Twitter: pphbkeyes