Visual Art

Hsiang II by Catherine E. Skinner

Hsiang II

Binary IV by Catherine E. Skinner

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Artist’s Statement:

Marking is a method that has always been used by man and animals to indicate their presence, to feel a part of place, and to let others know they were there. Our cultural memory lies within the physicality of place.

Over the past ten years, my work has focused on ways to mark sacred space and how this is defined by various peoples around the world. My solo shows have combined paintings, sculptures, and installations that honor the environment created by my work within the gallery. The viewer is there to connect the energies of the work within the space.

Within this body of work, I often use the repetition of the number 108, which is gya gye in Tibetan. This number has powerful meanings. The sum of the three digits adds up to 9, which is one of the spiritual numbers. Ancient cultures believe that humans tell 108 lies, have 108 earthly desires, and 108 forms of delusion. It is also said there are 108 feelings, with 36 related to the past, 36 related to the present, and 36 related to the future. The 1 in 108 stands for God or higher Truth, the 0 for emptiness or completeness in spiritual practice, and the 8 for infinity or eternity.

Repetition allows for focus and perseverance; it takes time and hopefully leads to an inner center. Whatever the use of repetition, spiritual or artistic, there is a dissolution of the self into the whole. Energy is concentrated by the continuous reiteration of the same path, the same pattern, the same practice.

Work of the Marking Code series pursues a deep investigation of the symbolic number 108, sacred to several Eastern religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Structured through a variety of counting systems, from primitive tally marks and I Ching notations to binary coding, they encompass the 108 count and encoding of “one hundred eight.” Counting and measuring have been our way to order the disorder around us, from drawing in the sand to codes delivering instant information. Employing the medium of oil and encaustic on panel, the work explores numerological systems from around our world alongside present-day computer codes.

These encryptions are developed into complex patterns, yielding abstractions evocative of ancient textiles, wall graffiti, and partially erased blackboards. Using a wide array of gestures, from delicate tracery to incising with a stick, there are single strokes of large antique sumi brushes to finger marks dragging paints across the paint surface. Each piece becomes its own offering to the basic elements of our natural systems, a modern mandala with new possibilities.

Tao generates one. One generates two, two generates three. Three generates all things.
Lao Tsu

Surface Tension by Cynthia Yatchman

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