Florida native Karla Klay is executive director and founder of Artist Boat, which works to promote awareness and preservation of coastal margins and the marine environment through both the sciences and the arts. She is a conservationist and long-term Galveston resident.
What is your greatest achievement? I am most proud of getting a full-tuition scholarship to Southern Methodist University and graduating from the Meadows School of the Arts. With Artist Boat, I have saved 206-plus acres of land on the West End of Galveston. We keep going because there is another 1,000 acres to save if possible of the former Chapoton Ranch.
What’s your greatest fear? My greatest fear is to be unable to pay employees and bills on time. It is hard to run a nonprofit, and my biggest fear is we will fail at our mission of saving lands because of delay in cash flow from grant reimbursements.
With what historic person would you love to have a dinner conversation? Vincent Van Gogh. There is an energy flow between the paint and the viewer and the canvas. He knew the magic it takes to describe nature. Even his writings are profound. I want to tell him how much he has been loved and what an effect he has had on the artists and people who came after him.
If you were reborn, what would you like to come back as? I don’t want to come back, I want to know what is next. But, if that is not an option, then I want to be a whale — sperm whale or killer whale or gray whale.
In 2020, you’d like to be … A MacArthur Fellow traveling the world, able to speak in a powerful enough way for people to change the way they treat our planet. However, it might be too late by then to change the way we use water, energy and natural resources as well as money. We need to conserve nature now through any mechanism legally available.