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Katherine E. Nash (1910-1982)
Katherine Nash was a pioneer in establishing large-scale sculpture as a woman’s medium. A feminist artist decades before the ideas of feminism became commonplace, she was undaunted by the difficulties of working in welded steel or cast concrete as she was by the prejudices of the art world against women.
Nash was the daughter of Carl and Elizabeth Flink of Minneapolis, Minnesota. She studied drawing and sculpture at the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design) from 1926 to 1928, then received a B.S. degree in art education from the University of Minnesota in 1932. She worked in advertising until 1947 when she taught at a private school in Minneapolis for a year, and then left to become head of the sculpture department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1948 to 1953. While she was in Lincoln, she attended specialized courses in foundry and pattern making, developing the skills she needed to created large-scale sculptures.
In both 1963 and 1964 Nash taught sculpture at the University of Minnesota during the winter while John Rood was on leave, and by September 1964 her place on the faculty was secure. She quickly established herself as a sculptor capable of articulating her ideas in cast iron, steel, copper, and aluminum, and her vigorous commitment to her art as a means of expression for women produced a new attitude and grudging respect in the male-dominated art department.
An inspiring teacher, Nash won the Morse-Amoco Teaching Award for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education in 1975. That same year she presented a sculpture commemorating International Women’s Year to the Minnesota State Fair where the work became a permanent outdoor monument. Her work appeared in numerous group and one-person exhibitions throughout the United States.
Illness forced Nash’s retirement from the University in 1976, and she was named professor emeritus. In 1979 the Regents of the University approved naming the Katherine E. Nash Gallery in the West Bank Union in her honor.