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Karin Christine Nelson: In Memoriam

posted by CAA — Oct 04, 2011

Amalia Nelson-Croner is the daughter of the deceased.

Karl Kilinski II

Karin Christine Nelson

Karin Christine Nelson, a Salt Lake City native and a thirty-seven-year resident of the Bay Area, passed away peacefully on June 22, 2011, at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. Nelson worked an independent curator, author, editor, and registrar for several San Francisco museums; was a respected and beloved career counselor for City College of San Francisco; and served on the Alameda County Arts Commission for many years. She was also a brave world traveler with a passion for art, as well as a selfless mother, sister, daughter, and friend.

After graduating with a double major in art history and sociology from Occidental College in Los Angeles in 1969, Nelson opted to explore the globe, traveling widely through India, Indonesia, and several countries in Europe. She lived in Japan for three years, teaching English and learning Japanese. During her time in Asia, she studied and documented traditional weaving and dyeing and amassed a stunning photographic portfolio of traditional textiles, which was later exhibited in the United States. She published articles on Okinawan textiles and was invited to speak at many textile exhibitions.

Upon moving to the Bay Area, Nelson did graduate coursework in museum studies at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California, and later earned her master’s degree in career development at the same institution. In 1983 she began working for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, an organization with which she was associated for the rest of her life. While there she curated the exhibition Craft Traditions of Okinawa and authored the accompanying essay, “On the Brink: Okinawan Textiles in the 21st Century,” which appeared in the museum’s scholarly journal, A Report, in the fall of 1996. It was also at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art that she and her friend, Delphine Hirasuna, first produced The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps, 1942–1946. Due to their continued efforts, the hugely successful show has toured four museums since 2006, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC. It will continue traveling across the United States and will also appear in Japan.

Besides working for the Museum of Performance and Design in recent years, Nelson had been a career counselor for City College of San Francisco since 1992. She took pride in helping credit and noncredit students, alumni, and community members and was amazingly successful in assisting them in job placement. A member of the community in Albany, California, for two decades, Nelson served on the Albany Arts Committee, the Albany Waterfront Committee, and the Alameda County Public Art Advisory Committee. She was instrumental in creating the exhibition program at the Albany Community Center and volunteered at Albany public schools to help students experience all sorts of artistic expression. While her children attended Albany High School, she also worked to organize the school’s annual Job Shadow Day.

Nelson was a tireless supporter of several organizations relating to the arts, education, and the environment. She was a generous friend and colleague; a dedicated mother and daughter; and an extremely capable, intelligent, and passionate individual. She will be missed by all who knew her.

A memorial service was held on August 7, 2011, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley. Karin Christine Nelson is survived by her mother, Ingeborg Nelson; her brother, Kenneth Nelson Jr.; and two daughters, Katarina and Amalia Nelson-Croner.

Karin Nelson Legacy Scholarship

In honor of Nelson’s commitment to students at City College of San Francisco, the Career Development Counseling Department is accepting donations for the Karin Nelson Legacy Scholarship, which can be mailed to: Karin Nelson Legacy Scholarship, Scholarship Office, MUB 130B, City College of San Francisco, 50 Phelan Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112.

Karin C. Nelson Memorial Fund

In honor of Nelson’s contributions to the Bay Area arts community, the Alameda County Arts Commission and the Foundation for the Arts in Alameda County have created the Karin C. Nelson Memorial Fund, which will support special projects for arts education and community art programs that were important to her. You can make an online donation or mail one to: Karin C. Nelson Memorial Fund, Foundation for the Arts in Alameda County, PO Box 29004, Oakland, CA 94604-9004.

Filed under: Obituaries