New Art: Katherine Nakaska

Nakaska’s photographs solidly combine sentimentality, nostalgia and dark romanticism.

Lenny Mullins

"I'm a very sentimental person," says artist Katherine Nakaska. "Sentimentality is one of those feelings that the art world sometimes considers less important than it really is."

Predominately working in photography, Nakaska creates beautiful prints—ephemeral work that suits her darkly romantic subject matter. "I'm interested in themes surrounding memory and tangibility. In the past year I've become more interested in heirloom objects and jewellery—especially feminine heirloom objects—they tell a story."

Nakaska's most recent show, Tuché, at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, explored her own heritage. The recipient of a Roloff Beny scholarship, Nakaska traveled to Holytown, Scotland, staying in the same house her grandmother was born in. "It was a great opportunity. I proposed going to Scotland to explore my ancestry and lost connections with Scotland," she says. "When my Nana emigrated to Nova Scotia she left behind a huge family that I didn't really know. I stayed with my Aunt Josie. I can do the accent now." Documenting her past in a unique way, Tuché manages to keep an air of mystery and curiosity—Nakaska photographed the only back of family photos with their faded inscriptions and the bursting photo album from their cover alone.

Nakaska cites photography as being a "certificate of prescence, affirming mortality" and her connection to analogue forms builds a kind of nostalgia. Due to graduate NSCAD in May, Nakaska is a curatorial intern at the Anna Leonowens, working on the end of year graduate exhibit, and teaches black and white photography through NSCAD's extended studies.

A keen interest in archiving highlights her attachment to the past. "I love archiving different objects and imagining a time where they were used as items of leisure or costume. A heirloom helps us remember the past, just like photography."

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