As a 12-year-old boy backpacking through the Eastern Sierra, Nathan Kosta knew photography was his calling when he began capturing the vivid landscapes around him.
Now he’s a 32-year-old graduate student in the Master of Fine Arts program at San Francisco State, pursuing his childhood dream of creating art.
The majority of Kosta’s days are spent balancing his work time in the studio, his school work and teaching a digital photography class.
“When you’re a professional artist you have what people refer to as an art practice — and Nathan is really good at practicing,” art department assistant professor Sean McFarland said.
As one of his department advisers, McFarland speaks of Kosta’s unrelenting passion in his profession with fondness.
“He’s very good at understanding the balance that it takes to both physically being in the studio making artwork and also researching ideas that revolve around the conceptual concerns of his artwork,” McFarland said.
Kosta said his passion for photography began at a young age because his father, a photographer, introduced him to and taught him all about cameras.
Photography has been an integral part of his life ever since. What began as a simple appreciation of the beauty of landscapes has transformed into an understanding of ecology and the ability for his art to have a positive impact on environmental conservation.
The photographs he takes now focus on the relationship of humans to natural landscapes and on environmental destruction.
“In undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, I learned to use photography as a way to engage and discourse with the current political situation and promote awareness to ideas that I feel need to be discussed within our society,” Kosta said. After all his hard work and practice, Kosta’s art is being featured in the Embark Gallery beginning Friday.
The gallery is called Laughter and Tears and will also include the work of three other San Francisco State MFA students.
Laughter and Tears showcases art that brings up important social and political events, but does so with humor in each piece. This will be the ninth gallery Kosta’s photos will be displayed at and he said he is the most excited about this exhibition because the theme of the gallery relates so well to the themes of his own work.
One of his good friends since middle school, Katie Hatch, has always been a fan of Kosta’s work, even when she was living on the other side of the country. She finds his dedication to his craft and unrelenting interest in all things camera admirable.
“He is one of those people who self-educates about every new thing that photography could do just because he’s fascinated by it,” she said.
Kosta is also been known to be generous with his artwork and has given friends prints as gifts, according to friends.
Kosta has many plans for his future, starting with graduating from the three-year MFA program. From there he plans to continue taking as many photos as he can in the Bay Area with the hope of being shown in more galleries.