With a background in leadership, nonprofit management, strategic and cultural planning as well as art museum and gallery administration, Krystle Kaye was the perfect fit to take the helm at the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition in June 2017. Before joining OVAC, Kaye led projects at the Cultural Development Corporation of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University Museum of Art and 108 Contemporary. In her current role as OVAC’s executive director, she serves artists across the state through education, promotion, connection and funding. In addition to this role, Kaye remains an active artist, arts writer and curator. We caught up with Kaye and got her thoughts on… 

…OVAC.

I was originally drawn to OVAC because of the number of artists the organization touches each year. The most rewarding part of this job is when we see artists taking our workshops, getting accepted into our shows or winning awards, growing their practice, and reaching those milestones. It’s an honor to get to be a small part of all of these artists’ journeys. 

… career highlights. 

If I were to pick just one proud moment at OVAC, it would be our response to the pandemic through the OK Art Crawl. Local curator Jennifer Scanlan came to us with the idea, and just a few weeks later, we had a statewide art crawl with 242 artists in 33 communities. Artists put their artwork up in their windows or on their driveways, and it was a beautiful way to connect artists to the community. It was during a time when festivals and exhibitions were all canceled. Artists were hurting and the public had been missing out on experiencing the arts. That weekend saw more than 2,500 visitors, and artists made more than $25,000 in art sales! It’s amazing how sending a few emails and creating a few graphics can have such an incredible economic impact.

… goals for the future. 

This last year, we were asked to join the Andy Warhol Foundation’s Regranting Program, which will fund a brand-new grant for artists opportunity. Our new Thrive Grants program will award 12 artists grants of $5,000 each. The selected artists then have one year to complete their projects, which will culminate in an event at the end of the year where all of the artists will share their projects through a presentation. At the end of the event, the 12 artists for the next year will be announced. Artists need money to create art and we are excited to have the opportunity to infuse $80,000 into the arts sector for the creation of new art.

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… her passion for art.

Honestly, my story is the same as the next artist. I had a wild imagination as a kid and I could sit for hours at my grandma’s table with my box of art supplies. The arts have just always felt like home. As an adult, though, I have seen first-hand the power of the arts to spark thoughtful conversations, make change and impact communities in ways I never could have imagined as a kid.

… her own creations.

I work with ceramics and incorporate fibers such as thread and yarn. I like the juxtaposition of the rigid clay next to soft fiber. A couple of ceramic artists whose work I admire are Margaret Kinkeade and Tim Kowalczyk. Their styles are radically different, but my work borrows aspects from both of them.

… the best part of her day.

Watching our artists succeed. Our vision is to make Oklahoma a place where the arts thrive, and behind every success we see, we are cheering those artists on. Every artist’s win is a win for Oklahoma, because it means we are getting closer to our vision.