Cassidy Skillman is an interdisciplinary artist from the San Francisco Bay Area focusing on printmaking and sculpture. Skillman’s work reflects her interests in environmental consciousness and social evaluation. Skillman creates a comprehensive range of artwork utilizing her extensive studio education. She received a BA in Studio Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz after transferring from Diablo Valley College in Concord, CA. Skillman will be attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago to pursue an MFA in Printmedia.
The art that I exhibit in Irwin 2021: Fabricating Solace was created on the unceded land of both the Awaswas Ohlone people in the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and the Bay Miwok people in the Bay Miwok Tribes.
I started two ongoing series of reduction woodcut prints called Closed for Restoration and Neglected Places in the UC Santa Cruz Printmaking Studio a month before the Covid-19 lockdown. I began both from an interest in climate justice. The concept for each series grew to become forms of institutional critique as well as a reminder of the importance of environmental and social awareness. In both series of prints, I am advocating to protect all parts of the Earth and respect all forms of life.
The series Closed for Restoration is a critique of the lack of transparency behind well known art institutions. Hidden behind fine art, museums can be an aesthetic front to massive investments from corrupt systems such as extraction, detention facilities, and defense manufacturing. These institutions contribute to gentrification and colonial abuse. For this reason it is imperative we recognize that the success of some cultural institutions contribute to exploitation.
The series Neglected Places, explores forms of environmental and social mistreatment. Colonialism and industrialization have contributed to loss of habitat, extinctions, toxic pollutants, commodification of raw materials, etc. Attention to public health and environmental conservation is necessary to assure a secure future.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, along with many other institutions, have namesakes tainted with investments in fossil fuels. I imagine this beautiful museum as an aesthetic front built from corrupt fundings in extracting raw minerals, oil, and gas. While the museum is closed for restoration, the Frank Lloyd Wright architecture oozes oil as the rigs drill for fine art.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is connected to a plethora of unethical philanthropy including extractivism, war, etc. In this print, I am drawing focus to the investments in the racist prison-industrial-complex, mass detention and deportation systems that enrich and support the MoMA’s private funding sources. While the museum is closed for restoration, the Museum of Modern Art galleries become a prison block where art is detained behind steel bars.
In 2014, officials in the City of Flint thoughtlessly adjusted the city’s water system and began to supply their citizens with water from the Flint River. This cost-cutting measure resulted in lead contamination causing a plethora of public health issues, including disease and death. In 2021, the public health and water crisis continues to affect the people of Flint, Michigan.
I am overwhelmed by the juxtaposition of offshore structures becoming artificial reefs. When any aspect of the environment is overlooked there are systemic repercussions. I want to show the moments of nature's retreat when the environment is dismissed. This print is created to bring attention to neglected perspectives through combinations of melding imagery.
The 2021 Irwin Scholars are Abby McPhillips, Caroline Alfonso, Cassidy Skillman, Chloe Calhoun, Connor Alexander, Kalen Meeks, Klytie Xu, Louisa Balderas, Lucinda Gold, Saul Villegas, Sydney Geisinger, and Zoe Forsyth.