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K
aren Sekikawa is an honours
geography graduate, a photog-
rapher whose "hobby" has pro-
duced work that has been on
display at art galleries in Toronto, and an
intern architect preparing for her profes-
sional licence. Though they may seem like
disparate pursuits, Sekikawa says they are
perfectly interconnected.
"I find all my experiences are inter-related,
whether they are professional, academic,
volunteer activities, my travels, or interests
in visual arts," she says. "I don't think of
them as independent of each other."
As a child growing up in Oakville, ON
Sekikawa drew pictures on the walls of the
family home and her parents did not stop
her. She liked staying indoors: sketching,
creating stationery, and designing elabo-
rate imaginary communities.
"I would draw portions of neighbour-
hoods on paper and then tape the numer-
ous sheets of paper to form a huge com-
munity plan taking up most of the living
room," she says. "Once the lots for the
houses were subdivided, I designed eleva-
tions and floor plans for houses in these
fictitious communities."
These activities were a meshing of the
interests she would later recognize as
geography and architecture.
In her second year at Mount Allison,
Sekikawa had to choose a major. Her ever-
supportive mother suggested geography.
"I soon realized that I couldn't imagine
majoring in anything else. It dawned on
me that what I had signed up to formally
study was my instinctive curiosities since
childhood. My mother was right in her
suggestion," she says.
Sekikawa went to Japan for three years
after graduating from Mount Allison to
teach English to high school students.
It was here that her passion for photogra-
phy began.
"I felt that every day seemed like a new
experience and started to record them,"
she says. "I learned a lot about Japanese
pop culture from my students who were
some of my favourite subject matter. I
enjoyed photographing them in school
events that were special to their school or
to Japanese culture."
A few years later, she spent 10 months trav-
elling through Southeast Asia, document-
ing her trip in pictures.
"I really had fun with photography and
sketching, capturing everything that
interested me -- architecture, physical
landscapes, markets, and the everyday life
of people."
Although Sekikawa was drawn to archi-
tecture, she thought it required more math
than she was comfortable with. Curious,
she finally picked up an application for a
professional graduate degree in architec-
ture and saw this was not the case.
"Architecture ties together many things
that I love," she says. "I am creative and I
enjoy designing and crafting. It is an inter-
disciplinary profession that intertwines
art and design, science, geography, public
policy, economics, sociology, business,
planning, and urban design, to name
but a few. I love this challenge of creating
interesting spaces and places for people
that also address various issues from
different disciplines."
Sekikawa feels there is a lot to be revealed
in the study of the everyday. Whether she
is walking through a building she admires
or by a laneway in her Toronto neighbour-
hood she sees beauty, something she aims
to capture in her work.
by Raine Phythian
''
``
I find all my experiences are inter-related
The City of Arts and
Sciences, Valencia, Spain
2005 (K. Sekikawa)