Islay believes in expanding equitable access for artists and arts organizations through transparency, resource sharing and community dialogue. She has a successful history of creating needs-based programming that’s reflexive togaps in artist programs, with a specific focus on incubating sustainable creative practices.
She has served as the Associate Director of The Steel Yard for the past five years. As Associate Director, she has worked closely with the Executive Director and Board to facilitate the development and implementation of the mission and vision of the organization; she also dedicated her time mentoring emerging professional staff members to grow their confidence, competency and establish useful organizational systems.
During this time, she simultaneously focused on formalizing and growing the organization’s industrial-arts residency program. Her goal with the residency program has been to reduce barriers to participation, eliminate fees, increase stipends, expand the diversity of participants, and provide access to education and resources that act as springboard to a sustainable, life-long art practice.
Previously, she was Education Director at The Steel Yard, where spearheaded the department’s first business plan, increased pay for instructors by 20%, debuted the pilot scholarship program, and grew course engagement to capacity, increasing participation by 25%. Formerly, she was a teaching artist, which greatly impacted her methodologies and administrator of educational programs.
During her time as a Gallery Director, Islay fell in love with the concept of using art as an educational opportunity to encourage dialogue and understanding of differing viewpoints. She has curated numerous exhibitions, installed over 50 art shows, and worked with practicing artists to help them share their work with the community.
Her professional career has been shaped by personal convictions and a mindset of abundance. She is guided by a desire for substantive cultural change, a redesign of power structures, and pathways for individual and collective development. Islay understands that as an administrator, there is an inherent sense of also being a gatekeeper; with this in mind, she strategically uses her access and privilege to advocate on behalf of independent artists.