Nora's Notables - Part V

In the latest update from the NYSID archives, NYSID archivist Nora Reilly highlights notable alumna Isabel Taylor-Helton.

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Taylor-Helton, a residential interior designer based in Manhattan, graduated from NYSID in 1974.  Over the next few years, she became increasingly concerned about the absence of black interior designers in the field, so in 1976 she founded The Black Artists and Designers Group. A NYSID newsletter from summer 1976 claims the group was a “not-for-profit endeavor by four talented artists aiming to heighten the awareness of all people to the importance of Black Art, Black Artists and the Black Consciousness of visual expression.”

Taylor-Helton remained committed to this issue and in January 1979, she organized the first photographic exhibition of black designers at the Countee Cullen Library in Harlem.  One of her more high-profile jobs came later on in her career when she was hired by filmmaker, actor, and artist Melvin Van Peebles to be his design consultant in the redecoration of his Manhattan apartment, for which they both received much media coverage. 

During her career, Taylor-Helton was an active member of ASID, made appearances on television shows, and was a regular contributor to magazines.  Her activities were closely followed by the College, evidenced by the various news clippings and mentions of her in NYSID Newsletters found in the NYSID archives.

Phyllis Greer