Indianapolis lost a significant art educator, Kay Clay, age 71, on New Year’s Eve. Kay was an accomplished watercolorist and illustrator, and a graduate of John Herron Art School and the master’s programs at Indiana and Butler universities. But her ability to be a passionate art teacher for 45 years, and an example of what it means to live — and survive — an artistic life, perhaps will be her most far-reaching legacy.
Kay generated excitement about art in students from all walks of life — so much so that she was recruited from retirement to head the art department at Northwest High School. Previously, she had taught at Manual, Arsenal Tech, Crispus Attucks and John Strange Elementary. She taught generations of students — parents, their children and grandchildren.
I met Clay at the Indianapolis Art Center where she had taught youth drawing since 1980 and was awarded Faculty of the Year in 2001. Warm, open, attentive and with striking, retro black glasses, I came to know Clay’s richly detailed, precisely rendered drawings and paintings — and the scope of her teaching influence.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Feb. 1, 4:30 p.m. at North United Methodist Church, Indianapolis.