Edward Murray McKay (1968-2022)
Edward Murray McKay (known as Murray) was a performance artist, education advocate, curator, designer and LGBTQ activist.
In Chicago, Murray made a name for himself as an actor and performance artist with the Pansy Kings, starting his professional performance career off in the 1995 Live Bait Theater holiday pageant as Dingle Barrie, Santa's favorite drag elf. He also took part in the Pansy Kings first Park West show in 1996 as the Cookie Diva, and a reunion performance in 2003. He appeared in Victory Gardens' “The Tempest” and as in the lead in “Psycho: An American Musical.” McKay also worked for a time on the technical staff of Blue Man Group Chicago.
McKay's academic career included stints in senior leadership enrollment roles at SAIC; Bowling Green State University, in Bowling Green, Ohio; Studio Arts Centers International, in New York City and Florence, Italy; Parsons School of Design at The New School in New York City and Paris; Drexel University's Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, in Philadelphia; and, most recently, at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). During McKay's 21 years as an education enrollment leader, he was responsible for thousands of students being able to attend the art and design colleges he worked for. This included finding numerous scholarships for students who had no financial resources.Additionally, McKay was instrumental in opening Parsons School of Design at The New School's Paris campus in 2015. While at MICA, McKay played a vital role during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in his interim senior leadership position on the president's council.
McKay was born in Brussels, Belgium, moved to Toronto and then Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he spent his early childhood before the family moved to St. Peter MN. When Murray was 12, he starred in a production of Oliver at Mancato State University, where his performance was highlighted in the Mancato Free Press. He studied communications at Bradley University before transferring to Indiana's University of Evansville, where he received his BA in theater performance. McKay also got a MFA in interdisciplinary performance art at SAIC, and trained as an actor at Chautauqua Institute Theatre Conservatory.
Murray is survived by his husband Gregory Downer, Art Director of the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s “Opera News,” father Dr. John McKay, sisters Johanna and Elizabeth McKay, and countless chosen family members and friends.