Multidisciplinary talent heads to D.C.

We recently caught up with Isabelle Martin (BA, 2018). She was ambitious while at CFA, involved in everything from art history research to the symphony orchestra, so it's no surprise she is just as ambitious and active now!


At UK I majored in Art History & Visual Studies with a minor in Music Performance (Cello). Being in both the School of Art and Visual Studies and the School of Music offered me so many incredible academic and creative opportunities, a number of which appealed to my interest in a cross-disciplinary approach to the arts. I was lucky to be able to play in the UK Symphony Orchestra (UKSO) and travel to Prague to participate in Prague Summer Nights, as well as to present my art historical research at a handful of academic conferences, but I also got to combine my interests in Dr. Kevin Holm-Hudson and Dr. Anna Brzyski’s joint music and art history course on David Bowie.

Though I’ve never taken an arts administration course, I also worked on the admin team for UKSO. I learned so much from my friends in admin, as well as from my two older sisters, both of whom graduated from UK with degrees in Arts Administration and Music Performance (Violin). From these experiences, I was able to thrive and grow at UK in ways that set the stage for my developing intellectual and artistic goals.


After graduating in May 2018, I went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago, continuing my studies in contemporary American art that addresses issues of race. There I wrote a thesis comparing two photographic series by the Chicago-based artist Dawoud Bey, exploring the political and social objectives of each series and situating them in the context of dialogues about justice, accountability, and the role of empathy in contemporary politics. During my time in Chicago I also worked with an amazing nonprofit called United States Artists, which awards around 50 artists across 10 disciplines every year with an unrestricted grant of $50,000. It’s a deeply interdisciplinary organization where I learned what it means and looks like to provide support and resources for today’s artists.


I’m preparing to move to Washington, DC, to start a new job as an Assistant, Institutional Giving at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Though my formal educational background is in art historical research and writing, I’m following in my sisters’ footsteps by pursuing a career in administration in the performing arts; my sister Miranda (’15) works as the General Manager of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras, and my sister Chandler (’17) is the Annual Fund Coordinator with the Aspen Music Festival and School.

It’s been my dream to work in a setting that embraces the role of the arts in fostering education and community engagement. I feel very passionate about supporting artists and ensuring that the arts are accessible and inextricable from the fabric of a community. Moreover, I’m excited for this chance to return to the performing arts, albeit not as a musician myself.

For more info on the Martin sister, all CFA alums, check out our 2019 blog post!