CALL (561) 512 - 1742 #ownakasha #palmbeach
CALL (561) 512 - 1742 #ownakasha #palmbeach
'An ARTIST must first admit they are an ARTIST, and secondly prove it.' KASHA
My name is KASHA McKee. I am a Canadian multimedia Artist. I was very uncomfortable with the idea of being an Artist most of my life. In high school the art class was a joke amongst my peers. Similarly, shop class was for losers who usually smoked outside of school and dressed like headbangers. These impressionable years were confusing. Even though I knew I had abilities in the 'arts', I was embarrassed to accept the awards for them.
The expectation for graduates at this time was to compete for placements at the most popular, best universities. I went to Guelph, a less novel location, smaller, known for it's agriculture curriculum. Still incredibly naive and whit-less, the pressure mounted to decide 'what to be' by second year. I had NO idea. However, I excelled in art class.
At Guelph University, the art students dressed in black and spent their extra time at coffee shops, smoking. I didn't personify them and I wasn't impressed to be honest. I didn't understand all the sitting around trying to look 'cool'.
When my art professor opened with a monologue about 'being an Artist' one morning in first year, she emphasized, 'prepare to be rejected, poor and suffer for your art.' I felt like I just got hurled into oblivion in an endless spin. As a reaction, I started skipping classes, drinking too much and flunked out.
LOST in space and time in Guelph, Ontario wasn't so bad. I decided to get a job waitressing at Red Lobster, where I made several friends for life, who were in their own endless spins of not knowing what to 'be' or personal purgatory. It was a safe haven for all of us to make some money, pay the rent and eat well until it was time to jump back in the education game. Everyone was aspiring... but to what?
My pride rose to the occasion when survival mode got comfortable. I went to visit a girlfriend from home in Toronto who was in business school at Ryerson. That visit changed everything. I enrolled into the esteemed interior design program for the next year. I was accepted 1 in 80 out of over 1500 international applicants because I could draw, with a scholarship because I came from a single parent family. I moved into the same subsidized apartment building as my friend two blocks from school and landed in a whole new world. Finally, my artistic secret was celebrated, encouraged and expected. It was here, very close to the end of year 1 out of 4, I fell in love with photography.
Once again, I was hurled into the abyss of life, this time knowing I wanted to BE a PHOTOGRAPHER. I quit interior design and hit the ground running, with a borrowed film camera in hand and never looked back. Life was a gorgeous mystery leading me 'to know thyself'. The challenge here on out was to discover what it meant to be a photographer, what kind of photographer, and where did I 'fit in' the industry.
I call this time the renaissance of my career. Toronto was an incredible adventure where I dove into many creative outlets. From body painting to experimenting with 35mm, medium format film stills, digital video, digital stills, music, performance art, modeling, acting and literature. I embraced being an ARTIST, thriving in the underground with other artists in the shadows of the night. It was easy. It was fun. It was also dangerous. Somehow I eluded the pitfalls of drugs and alcohol by keeping my eye on the prize, by being a photographer.
And then the universe intervened, and I landed in South Beach, 1996 for a tattoo convention. Needless to say, I dropped everything in Toronto and rolled the dice a year later with one suitcase and my medium format camera. Feeling fearless, I literally followed my instincts to find a place to live, a bartending job for tips, and the people who introduced me to life in paradise. South Beach was pure magic to me. It made me shine, it spoiled me and loved me. This was the first time I knew how it felt to be free, uninhibited and beautiful. I was surrounded by beauty everywhere I stepped, I was in love with the palm trees, blue sky, warm ocean, hot sand, colorful architecture, and all of the music. It was easy to 'fit in' as a photographer, but it wasn't easy to get paid. Learning how to do business replaced living in dreamland and just getting by. It took years for me to feel comfortable putting a value on my work. I did most of it for free, barter or gave it away as gifts.
Documenting my twenty-seven year career has been a challenge because I am impulsive, spontaneous and love a great adventure. I could have a small library of memorabilia by now if I cared enough to collect it. The paths I have taken have been those less travelled and I would never trade for what could have been. By 'industry standards' I am still largely unknown. Largely due to my disdain of the commercial photography business, and the art business as a whole. My experiences defined that I do not play well in these sandboxes which has made financial gains difficult as a photographer. It has also made me reclusive as an artist.
However, I have learned from all of my experiences that regardless of paying the bills, the importance of ART in our world is paramount. Artists throughout the ages have always been ethical barometers of civilization, mirrors of human nature and proof of our fleeting existence. Society needs to see itself in the physical expressions of art as reminders and check points in life. Therefore, an Artist must be acknowledged, supported, and encouraged to develop their craft. It is the Artist who provokes us, persuades us, and pleases us at our core.
My observations as of late are disappointing. Technology has permanently disfigured the human condition. People are more engaged with being admired with 'likes' on their smart devices instead of noticing the miracles of life around them in every moment. The ‘influencer‘ generation is completely oblivious to anything besides their own image and instant gratification. Attending ART FAIRS has become less about the pursuit of art and more about being seduced by shiny, sparkly, bubblegum icons. World wide galleries are IN on the gig, perpetuating this disingenuous pursuit of art by charging astounding prices to inflate its value. How utterly heartbreaking for ARTISTS.
And so, it is the Artist who remains diligent to preserve the erosion of basic human elements. Today, genuine Artists strive harder than ever to be acknowledged, survive as artists and remain true to the pursuit of art.
Since I ran scared from those wise words of what it would be like to be an ARTIST, I have learned that running was useless. Being an ARTIST in this life includes rejection, poverty, and all the dangers of self doubt and bending to mediocrity. It is the Artist's collective disposition to be authentic, creative, enthusiastic, industrious, and expressive. It is mandatory to produce works of art to maintain the sense of self and purpose in society. Therefore, being a LIVING ARTIST is a life long commitment of which I am resolved to always chose to suffer for it.
KASHA McKee, ARTIST.
KASHA McKee Gallery, 2020, Palm Beach Art/ Design Showroom, Palm Beach Fl.
"My mission is simple...to maintain the integrity of the pursuit of ART." KASHA