Human Resources > Faculty and Staff Spotlight

​Faculty and Staff Spotlight

​​​Julie Rodrigues Widholm is the Director and Chief Curator of the DePaul Art Museum (DPAM)

Julie Rodrigues
"Part of my personal mission is also to provide a platform for a wider representation of artists in museums. That’s what drives me. My mission is deeply connected to the university’s overall mission of inclusion and access to opportunities."

Julie’s vision is to give a wide range of politically active, socially engaged artists a place to have their voices heard.

Prior to her position at DPAM, Julie had been at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago for sixteen years. Her move to DePaul’s university museum has given her the opportunity to exhibit artists from more diverse backgrounds who explore cultural and political themes in their work. DPAM also serves as a platform for Chicago-based artists. Julie’s vision is to give a wide range of politically active, socially engaged artists a place to have their voices heard.

After curating at the Museum of Contemporary Art, what appealed to you about DPAM?

To move into a position at a smaller museum was very exciting. Since it was a young museum, I could shape it and execute a vision to really put this museum on the map. So it was a huge challenge with a ton of opportunity. I always thought my next position would be at a university museum.

I was also excited about the idea of working with students and faculty, and the idea that this environment of thought, ideas and dialogue could create a fantastic setting to present exhibitions.

The art world can drift toward similar artists and be a little homogenous. You may see more artists that are coming out of primarily a western canon. It can sometimes squeeze out the opportunities for lesser-known artists.

I think there’s a bit more freedom here to be experimental and forge a new path. Our charge is to be a place of ideas and debate. Being in an academic setting allows us to really dig into the issues and ideas and dialogue, and not worry so much about the biggest, hottest artist right now.


Can you describe the connection between your work at DPAM and the broader mission of the university?

My interests and the mission of DePaul University are very much in line. As a curator, I’ve worked a lot with diverse artists—from Latin America, female artists. I feel like diversity and representation in museums, especially one in an urban community like ours, is very important.

I want to build a community and connect people through art. Art is about all facets of life and learning how to look at art, or visual literacy, is an important part of one’s education. We want to be a resource for innovative teaching across campus. Part of my personal mission is also to provide a platform for a wider representation of artists in museums. That’s what drives me. My mission is deeply connected to the university’s overall mission of inclusion and access to opportunities.


As Director and Chief Curator, what is your vision for the museum and its exhibits?

I am very interested in curating politically active artists. Not only because it provides a platform, but it also validates these voices and experiences. I strongly believe that art and museums can provide a space to confront views that are different from your own and help negotiate those differences. Art can be a powerful way to gain understanding of someone else’s life and their way of being.

At the core, I believe that we all want to be seen and heard and loved. It’s that balance between negotiating difference, but ultimately getting to more of humanity.


Check the DPAM website to learn more about current and upcoming exhibitions.  Admission to the museum is free for students, faculty and staff.  The museum is just to the east of the Fullerton Red and Brown Line stop.