“An Artist must first admit they are an Artist, and secondly prove it." KASHA
Katherine Marie McKee, (born Katherine Marie Tomski on March 11, 1969) aka KASHA, is a Canadian multimedia artist. Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, to immigrant parents from Poland and the Ukraine. As a child, KASHA showed promise in the arts of singing, acting, music and illustrating. In high school, she studied under award winning, water color painter, artist HUGH NIBLOCK, who recognized her affinity for drawing to which KASHA received the Art Award in both senior years.
1987 - KASHA enrolled to Guelph University for the Bachelor of Arts program with full scholarship. British painter, Artist and Professor MARGARET PRIEST noted KASHA's talent and ‘self-willed’ nature. It was here KASHA decided not to be a painter.
1992 - 1996 KASHA enrolled to Ryerson University in Toronto with full scholarship into the acclaimed Interior Design program as 1 in 80 of 1500 international applicants. It was here KASHA fell in love with film photography. She quit the interior design program and volunteered for the local school newspapers as an entertainment photographer where she began shooting live rock concerts. The morning KASHA saw her first front page photograph of guitarist Dimebag Derrell from metal band Pantera, she took on the title of ‘photographer’ and never looked back. KASHA gained recognition quickly with each publication which fueled her ambition to jump into the real world, camera- ready. It was also during this time KASHA was invited to participate in her first group art show to support Aides Awareness. The sense of community and charity made a great impression on KASHA. This put a public spotlight on KASHA and her work which she naturally embraced and gracefully rose to the occasion. These early years of KASHA’s film photography, were full of adventure. She made her rounds with a second hand PENTAX K 1000 with such zest, it was easy for her to make friends and be acknowledged as an IT girl on the downtown Toronto scene. It was a vibrant time,. By the age of twenty five, KASHA was adored and respected as an under ground photographer and artist. As KASHA continued to rise in popularity alongside more exhibitions and publications in local magazines and newspapers, she fine-tuned her subject to male models. This opened the world of fashion where KASHA became known for scouting and shooting fresh faces for modeling agencies in Toronto and South Beach Florida. She preferred to shoot on location, inspired by the natural beauty of her male subjects against the characteristics of everyday life. KASHA enjoyed producing her own solo shows featuring her favorite male models on larger, more experimental prints, and projections in venues that were always unusual spaces, restaurants and clubs.
1997 - 2005 The digital evolution changed the landscape for artists, and KASHA adapted seamlessly. Not only did she find a way to shoot with the newest digital cameras on the market, she pushed further by printing on large format acetate sheets to exhibit. This was also a time where EDM (electronic dance music) was making waves in the clubs and DJs were reinvented. KASHA decided to give that try. She borrowed CDs, expanded her record collection and taught herself how to DJ during the day in a club when it was closed in South Beach, Fl. KASHA was one of three female DJs on the scene at that time and pugged into the VIP lounges and hi-end restaurants quickly. It was easy for KASHA to be adored because of her style and her approach to playing layers of music, layers of 'ambient groove'. By 2005, KASHA felt she had played enough and hung up her headphones to focus on a more serious goal, the INTERNET.
Identifying the internet as a demand for images, KASHA applied for an Entrepreneur Program sponsored by the Government of Canada to develop a small business concept 'Always KASHA Online Marketing Boutique', offering companies state of the art websites, branding, photography, and cross platform marketing solutions. She opened her first office in the small town of Midland, Ontario but quickly re-located downtown Toronto in the trendy King West area.
2005 - 2010 While maintaining her Canadian marketing clients, KASHA returned to South Beach to expand her company. Unfortunately, this was when the American economy tanked, the bubble broke and the first thing companies cut was internet marketing. None the less, KASHA stayed her course with a new SLR digital camera in the neighborhood she was recognized as an artist and IT Girl, KASHA made her rounds with her camera documenting her environment and social scenes leading to more exhibitions: The 'Beach Umbrella' series, and 'Paradise At Night' Both series were pop up exhibits in VIP nightclubs: Mynt Lounge and SET. KASHA produced and curated both installations which combined 360 degree wall projections with the original prints for sale.
2011 - KASHA closed her online marketing boutique shortly after she married Scott McKee, Captain for American Airlines and relocated to beautiful Palm Beach Island, Florida. Here, KASHA adapted to being a wife instead of an IT Girl in a drastically different environment compared to South Beach, and downtown Toronto. The next few years included technical learning curves with upgraded equipment. This is when KASHA began to experiment with the conceptual photograph. KASHA visually discovered her new neighborhood, studied the trends of the world and entered the ephemeral arena of her thoughts. It didn't take long for KASHA to integrate into Palm Beach living. Scott introduced his new bride easily, together they made their social appearances and KASHA expanded her database while keeping a keen eye on potential locations to exhibit. Meanwhile, her South Beach connections and invitations to events always made the hour drive worthwhile. The launch of hot spot Villa AZUR, invited her to exhibit there. This inspired the FAMOUS PLAYER Celebrity Portrait series which also showed downtown MIAMI at the McCormick building, Palm Beach Island VOIGHT gallery, and in Northwood West Palm in the David K Space.
2015 - KASHA and Scott renovate their first home on Palm Beach island. Together, they designed the interior to accommodate a private gallery and showroom for KASHA’s first collection of large format conceptual photography. Her inventory grew as well as the sizes of her original art to included 44” x 44” - 60” x 60” - 36” x 72” In the first year of opening, KASHA sold 3 pieces to her first collector; Bed of Nails, Bryant Park Bees, and Fire Bouquet with Humming Bird (her first official commission).
2016 - KASHA revisited a significant amount of digital images of fire that she captured during the winter of 2010 in Thunder Bay, Canada, her birth place.
This is when KASHA went even further within herself and tapped into a higher self for six months creating the massive DEATH MASK LEGACY series, 66"x96". KASHA played with the mirror image, layering combinations of 3-5 images until 'magic happened'.
2017 - KASHA's fan base grows through referrals and social media to land her second collector and commission 'Wiebel's World'. As KASHA personally introduced herself to the local, Palm Beach Island contemporary galleries, her work was not considered because she was not a 'brand name'. So she opened her own pop-up gallery on Worth Avenue, November 2017- March 2018. Here, she debuted a brand new collection of 66"x96" conceptual photographs to the public who gave rave reviews. KASHA is very comfortable working with this large format and broke through to a new level of technical difficulty in what she considers her first masterpiece ‘The Arrival’.
2018 - KASHA'S new body of work enters the international, collector art market via ARTSY.net by collaborating with the FRITZ Gallery, Royal Poinciana Plaza, Palm Beach Island. The triptych 'Mizner Memorial Fountain' was showcased during the 'SUMMER NIGHTS' exhibit at the Fritz Gallery. The FRITZ gallery closed to move to an new location on the island, forcing KASHA'S triptych to join the rest of the collection in storage but remaining online. With some time to think about how to promote the collection, KASHA was reminded of her love for preforming live as a DJ via a FaceBook memory: an old 'webisode' of KASHA filming herself as a DJ. This acted like a bolt of lightening and revived the long retired urge to play live. The HOUSE of PALM BEACH was born and KASHA is back in action making special appearances as a DJ/Sound Artist with sights on the BIG STAGE and eventually producing her own electronic dance music (EDM).
KASHA McKee, on location at the Acropolis - Athens 2011.