An Illuminating Nature: Ohio Artist Kathy Skerritt Brings Viewers Environment and Emotion in Her Large, Textural Paintings

By Hart, Jane | Art Business News, October 2003 | Go to article overview

An Illuminating Nature: Ohio Artist Kathy Skerritt Brings Viewers Environment and Emotion in Her Large, Textural Paintings


Hart, Jane, Art Business News


Geology, white-water rafting, the divine, struggles, triumph, light--all have been integrated into the illuminating paintings of Cleveland artist Kathy Skerritt. Her work represents a blending of the fractured and the whole--the revealing of a story that shows how the crevasses and the smooth points in life can culminate into a finished product that projects maturity and openness.

Skerritt herself exudes depth, warmth and centeredness--qualities that find their way on to her canvasses. In fact, it was an interest in the deeper questions in life that moved her from forestry to art as a major at Marietta College in Ohio. It was during this time that she began to ask questions such as, "what is light" and "what is love?" "These questions helped me move into the realm of the imaginative and the expressive," said Skerritt. And they also led her into the world of art.

Both nature and the deeper questions in life have influenced Skerritt's work. She is concerned about the relationship of things in the world. In fact, relationship is at the center of Skerritt's orientation to work and life. She thinks about and honors the relationship between humans and the environment, between the painter and the viewer and between humans and the divine.

She said a white-water rafting trip in Utah during college taught her about the relationship human beings have to a larger natural process. "It was the realization of my integration into a larger system," Skerritt said. "It was the realization of no separation between the self and the larger system in which I live, and that is a place of no fear."

Nature's influence is apparent in Skerritt's paintings, which depict geological formations and diverse surface textures that reveal a range of color, light and shapes that reflect the environment.

Technically, Skerritt's works are a mix of the simple and the complex. She pays great attention to the surface texture of her paintings, working primarily with gesso, acrylic and tempera. But this is where her interest in geology and forestry come in: She creates the look of fissures by over-painting deep textures and transparent washes with impasto techniques. The end result is a varied surface and texture that often resembles a geological site or liquid.

"I approach the canvas as if it were clay" said Skerritt. "It is a sensual process. I translate ideas either verbally, poetically or imagistically."

Having drawn, painted and written poetry since she was very young, Skerritt eventually attended Carnegie-Mellon University where she received her bachelor's of fine arts degree in painting. Her father was instrumental in encouraging her to seek formal art training, and she said her experience at Carnegie-Mellon challenged her to use her emotional energy in her work. …

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