Attention is rightfully being drawn to climate change and the resulting planetary degradation. In an attempt to deal with these overwhelming global events I work to illustrate the changes that concern me, and to explore what I can do to create the empathy, emotional engagement and cultural understanding needed to motivate a meaningful shift.


Relying on the language of cutaway visual aids used in geology textbooks has allowed me to consider the massive shifts and tragedies from a safe distance and manageable scale. I have always been fascinated by the way information is displayed reductively, especially in diagrams of plate tectonics. Depth of field is collapsed, perspectives are exaggerated, and the landscape is displayed in general without human culture. 


I am interested in what happens when naturalism and the awesome terror of nature (e.g., tsunamis, erosion, earthquakes) is fused with abstract geometric elements, as a stand-in for human imposed structures and practices (e.g., clear cutting forests, fracking, CO2 emissions).  Natural landscapes are further enhanced by our ability to see beneath the surface and comprehend what is happening on the exterior level by examining underlying strata and interior dimensions, which to me metaphorically suggest our reductionist understanding of our place in the world.


These drawings and paintings explore an ongoing artistic concern of mine in which I handle complexity by creating layers which dissolve into each other and produce intriguing intersections and intricacies. I use colored pencil because I enjoy the delicacy and subtlety possible in working with pencil, where layers of color are built up slowly with only the width of the pencil lead. Sometimes I start a drawing’s compositional elements without knowing what my specific subject will be— it is revealed as I work— and occasionally more than one natural event will find its way into a drawing, such as the bleaching of sea coral, a coastal oil spill, and the destruction of mangroves: although these are certainly related, they are a sampling of several events, rather than a reference to one particular location. I also rely on mythological symbols derived from Hindu and Buddhist cosmology and Judeo-Christian creation myths.



© 2021 by JANE SKAFTE

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Cosmic Turtle

colored pencil, 32" x 50"