Waters’ work at KMAC may also adapt to a world now seen through the eyes of a parent.

“It’ll be interesting to hear her ideas coming out of having a child,” says Julie Gross, KMAC’s communications director. “She’s always open to new ideas. That’s always exciting because [being a new mom] would be a way to come up with new ways of reaching audiences.”

Gross says most of the staff at KMAC rely on Waters’ ingenuity and experience in helping educate the 3,000 students that walk through KMAC’s doors each year. Her expertise in spreading art education and appreciation throughout Kentucky’s schools is also valued.

Waters’ own appreciation of art was discovered at an early age. Born and raised in Louisville, Waters left home after high school to earn a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris. While in school, her formal studies focused on oil painting and bronze casting. She later developed an interest in encaustic painting, a type of wax painting.

Throughout the years, Waters has exhibited her creations at the Louisville Water Tower and in various small art galleries and pop-up shows. She began her KMAC career in 2000 as assistant director of education, becoming director of education in 2006. During her tenure, Gross says, Waters has gained “great relationships” and an “enormous list of city contacts.”

“She is a great connector,” says Gross. “We have benefited from her longevity here, her experiences with what works and what doesn’t.”

Waters wrote the museum’s mission statement, which directs the museum to “connect people with art ... instilling in them an enduring appreciation of traditional and emerging art forms.” Waters herself has carried out that statement by forming makerspace public workshops, teachers’ guides and curricula, team-building workshops for businesses, and Clay Works, an open studio resource for artists who work in clay.

But it’s the Mobile Museum that Waters likes to talk about, even though it was created years before she signed on at KMAC. The traveling suitcase program features collections of pieces by Kentucky artists. The sets are sent out to schools across Kentucky so that children can learn about art without having to make a trip to Louisville. “It’s just a fantastic hands-on experience for kids, and they can learn so much about art just by handling these art objects,” Waters says.

It’s this sharing that can easily reflect Waters’ own motivation, be it through art or through her first love: music. It’s music, Waters admits, that creates a deeper link with those around her.

“The opening [of an art show] was the only time I was mostly having interaction with people,” Waters recalls. “It’s during shows and performing that connecting was a lot more immediate. I really need to stand with people and connect through people. It makes me tremendously happy.”

These connections aren’t relegated to just one musical genre either. Abplanalp goes so far as to say Dane “can do anything.”

“She doesn’t flinch when I pull out a hairbrained composition,” Abplanalp says. “She doesn’t mind going down a road where most others would feel uncomfortable. She’s the catalyst to push the band to be as evolutionary as it can.”