I make functional and sculptural pottery, often combing both concepts. Traditional shapes from ancient cultures, and found in archeological sites or museum collections, inform my work. I’m influenced by the ideas found in art movements – Dada, American Regionalism, and Pop – as well as the forms found in the Peruvian and Etruscan cultures. My work always has a strong sensory quality – both visually and tactilely. My pots are fun to hold.
Steven Skinner grew up in a small, rural community in northern Illinois. After Steven’s military service, he graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he studied lithography, photomechanical lithography, oil painting, drawing, and sculpture.
Early in his art career, Steven painted in oil and encaustic. But a desire to work in more challenging mediums led him to experiment with watercolors which he discovered brought a spontaneity and expressiveness to his technique.
From 1988 to 2006, Steven worked exclusively with watercolors: his first watercolor series, (1989 to 1999), focused on Chicago’s viaducts, roadways, and bridge structures; a subsequent watercolor series (1999 to 2002), combined interior structural architecture with tropical plants found in the Chicago botanical conservatories. From 2003 to 2006, Steven painted The Little Things, a watercolor series of objects selected for their shape, color, patina, and personal or social significance and rendered representationally, though Steven enhanced each object’s individualistic qualities to subtly change their original character.
While making art, Steven Skinner also devoted time to teaching painting and drawing at Columbia College Chicago, and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as Indiana University (South Bend). During the summer of 2006 he taught watercolor painting in Florence, Italy for Columbia College Chicago in conjunction with Santa Reparatta International School of Art.
For several years Steven worked as an exhibit preparator at the Shedd Aquarium and Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. As a preparator, he worked with artifacts and designed and fabricated custom-fit mounts, which required an appreciation of each artifact’s uniqueness. Steven was especially drawn to the Field’s outstanding collection of pre-Columbian pottery, which, he often sketched during his lunch hour. When Steven began to study pottery at Lill Street Art Center (Chicago) in 2006, the lasting impact of those beautiful, ancient functional objects, began to inform his artwork.
Steven and his wife make their home in rural northwestern Indiana. There he works in his pottery studio and utilizes a downdraft gas fired kiln that he constructed.