Joy Armstrong has made a career leap from museum life to the land of nonprofits.
The longtime curator of modern and contemporary art at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College transitioned this month into a new role as development director at Inside Out Youth Services. The organization is dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning and others) youth and their allies, and promoting education and outreach in the Pikes Peak region.
In the newly created position, Armstrong will organize and manage fundraisers and dream up creative events to grow awareness of the nonprofit that serves ages 13 to 22.
It’s a mission that resonates with her.
“When I was a young person, I felt like an outsider, and struggled to feel like I fit in,” she said. “I found my people in the arts, first in the theater and later in the studio. One of the most important things we can do for our youth, and for each other, is to remind them they are not alone. Having a safe, judgment-free place to relax into your own skin is sometimes difficult to find, but Inside Out exists for precisely this reason.”
She’s leaving the FAC on a colorful note. “World of WearableArt,” one of her final projects, featured outlandish and gorgeously whimsical outfits from New Zealand’s internationally renowned design competition. The show opened in June and was accompanied by “Sashay,” a runway show of wearable art by local and regional designers.
The exhibit recently closed, and while eye-catching, it didn’t top Armstrong’s list as her favorite contribution to the city’s artistic landscape over the last decade. That honor goes to Pamela Joseph’s “Sideshow of the Absurd” exhibit, which Armstrong curated in 2013.
“It was a real boost for myself personally and professionally,” she said, “to understand what I was capable of and what it was I wanted, what I wanted my curatorial voice to sound like.”
Armstrong was hired as a curatorial assistant at the FAC in 2010, after finishing a master’s in art history at Kent State at Ohio and returning to the Springs, where she grew up. She graduated from Doherty High School in 1996, followed by the University of Denver where she earned a double major in mass communications, specifically film and video production and studio art. She’s now in the second year of a doctorate program in educational leadership research and policy at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
After 15 years in the museum field, it was time to use her skills in a different capacity. She hopes to use her background in arts and experience working with local, regional and nationally known artists at the FAC to help young people.
“I wanted to return to thinking about having more meaningful and authentic engagement with the community I love so much,” she said.
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