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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Alumna sets role as conduit for art to reach communities

Kay’s work was on display at Art Basel in Miami Beach this year. | Courtesy of Tyler Kay

Tyler Kay’s life came to a turning point during the winter of her freshman year when her boyfriend passed away in a car accident. The graduate, who was studying economics at the time, then received the wake-up call that she needed.

Kay decided to become an artist and was recently chosen from hundreds of different artists — locally and internationally — to showcase her work as part of HUE Mural Festival.

“I asked myself ‘If I died tomorrow, would I be happy with what I have chosen?’” Kay said. “This is when I stopped living my life within an imaginary set of parameters and began to set my own parameters.”

Her mural is a vibrant display of roses — her signature motif. Another mural from Kay is at Calhoun’s Rooftop.

They are all a part of Kay’s main goal to bring art into the community.

“I want to get rid of the idea that art is only for elitists,” Kay said. “If I can’t bring people to the art, I want to bring art to the community.  Even if that means just painting murals, so mothers can have a reason to take their kids outside to go see the mural.”

Kay transferred to UH from Blinn College, graduating after two years only to find that there was still more to learn. She then decided to get her M.A. in Arts Leadership.

Fleurette Fernando, the director of the M.A. in Arts Leadership program, said that she was impressed with Kay from the start.

“She’s definitely one of the more dynamic students within the program,” Fernando said. “She strikes me as somebody who has been hustling and doing her professional work since before she came into the program.”

Kay has worked at Bisong Art Gallery for three years as director alongside Carla Bisong, the owner of the gallery. Kay said that Bisong’s passion is what drew her into working there.  

Bisong strongly admires Kay’s work ethic.

“At such a young age, Tyler is extremely ambitious,” Bisong said. “Tyler came in my gallery with a mission to grow her art career. She is far more focused than I was at her age.”

Kay was a part of the Art Basel in Miami Beach this year. She and Bisong approached the organization with her portfolio.

“At 23 years old, it’s a huge accomplishment,” Kay said. “Seeing my name in the catalog was surreal.”

Bisong also admires Kay’s optimism in addition to her ambition.

“Tyler has become a valuable asset to the growth of the gallery as well as my dear friend,” Bisong said. “We inspire each other to keep pushing the limits and continue to grow.”

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