Catherine Eaton Skinner: 108
Text by Elizabeth Brown.
The number 108, a potent symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern spiritual traditions, has inspired the work of Seattle-based abstract painter Catherine Eaton Skinner since 2004. Best known for her encaustic paintings incorporating natural imagery, Skinner’s Gya Gye (Tibetan for 108) and related series represent dramatic experimentation in form, process and viewer engagement. Informed by extensive travels in Bhutan, India, Japan and elsewhere—along with her corresponding research into languages and philosophical systems—she expanded her mediums to include rope, fabric, glass, stones and found objects which she modified in unpredictable ways. Although some of the series, such as the Elements paintings, retain recognizable imagery, her recent series bring 108 into the 21st century.
From QR code patterns to the simple, interminable zeroes and ones of binary language, Skinner discerns pictorial aptitude in contemporary digital codes. Other series explore ancient tally marks—both Eastern and Western—and the abstracting impact of systematically repeating simplified mountains or tight details of eyes, among other universal motifs.