Artist Statement

Stone Memory

Catherine Eaton Skinner

On July 23rd of 2018 I witnessed a 10’ flash flood tear past my Santa Fe home, a tsunami in a quiet valley, washing downstream animals, debris and tumbling boulders, leaving behind a raw, reordered landscape. My work went from the universal to the personal, understanding that our presumed control over the environment had evolved to a “new norm.”

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest where my backyard was old growth forests, freshwater lakes and the Puget Sound. As a family we collected stones from glacial rivers, desert lava flows and endless beach walks. These stones became part of my early landscape in our garden and gracing my mother’s bonsai collection. When my childhood home was sold on my parents’ passing, I transported these stones gathered over the years of exploration to my own home.

I work between studios in Seattle and Santa Fe, places where people carry smooth, tumbled stones or healing quartz in their pockets. In my travels I have connected with others who placed stones they carried from the valley to the mountain summit. Tiny stones have warmed my bare feet on ocean beaches. I have visited venerated stones wrapped with white cloth, coated with vermillion powder, covered in gold leaf offerings or washed in sacred waters. These journeys are bound together in memory with stones on my alter.

Archetypal elements mark the landscape of earth and stone, standing as vestiges of time. My layers of wax and oil stick acknowledge these pathways with marking, scarring and erasing. Scraped lines chart breaks in the microcosm of earth or celestial vaults of the universe. Water, earth, wind, fire and ether emerge in physical form in my work: beeswax and resin; graphite and oil stick; wood, paper and cloth; glass and stone; lead sheet, wire and precious metal leaf. Paintings often reference the horizontal line between the sky and earth. The possibility of hope for our environment and ourselves as humans comes in the form of the returning light in the morning sky.

My work encompasses sculpture, paintings and photography, or a combination of these media. This allows a flexibility and congruity to the exhibition with an awareness of sacred space. Stone paintings and the stones gathered from my living landscapes would flow throughout the space with an interaction of color and form. The red presented in wax and paint represents the energy flowing between the ether and the earth, as well as our connection to all sentient beings.

Within these bodies of work, I often use the repetition of the number 108, which has powerful meanings, especially in Eastern religions and traditions.  Repetition used as a practice allows for focus leading to an inner center of quiet. Simplicity comes with the commitment to this ritual of patterns.

wind waits on still stone

with the silence

of listening trees

to join

the upward wings

of ravens

toward a sky

of memories

The historical reverence for the power and sacredness of stones spans cultural memory. We live in a chaotic world where it is difficult to feel a part of the whole with a loss of control and balance: personally, politically and spiritually. There must be an acceptance of what cannot be corrected. Hopefully we will continue to find ways to understand and bond, not only to our environment, but most importantly, to each other.


March, 2021

Catherine Eaton Skinner

Catherine Eaton Skinner (Seattle/Santa Fe) illuminates the balance of opposites, reflecting mankind’s attempts at connection

Catherine Eaton Skinner’s publications include Magazine 43; Southwest Contemporary; MVIBE; LandEscape Art ReviewArtmagazineium; and her monograph 108 (Radius Books).

40+ solo and group exhibitions: Pie Projects; Perry & Carlson; Waterworks Gallery; International  Art Museum of America; Las Cruces Museums: Branigan Cultural Center; Summerlin  Library/Performing Arts Center; Enterprise Library Gallery; Missouri 6-city traveling exhibition;  Wilding Museum; Cape Cod Museum; Yellowstone Art Museum; and High Desert Museum.

Awards: U.S. Art in Embassies, Papua New Guinea and Tokyo, and Acclaimed Artists, New  Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.