Christopher Bartel

The Skinwalker Ranch Portfolio

The Skinwalker Ranch Portfolio features the work of Kansas-born photographer Christopher Bartel.

This online exhibition includes eighty works by Bartel, drawn from University of Maryland Art Gallery's The Skinwalker Ranch Series, 2010–2016 digital photo archive. Arranged into four thematic sections—Origin, Environment, Exploration, and Vision—the portfolio dignifies and elevates the Ranch’s rich cultural history. Bartel’s photos acknowledge the earliest Native American inhabitants of the region while simultaneously paying homage to the time-honored artistic tradition of documenting the American West.

The pop culture reputation of Skinwalker Ranch precedes its natural beauty and physicality, as few have ever actually set foot on the property.

The ranch gets its nickname from the Navajo word “skinwalker,” which refers to a malevolent shapeshifting entity. Ute tribe oral histories, personal encounters and testimonies by local residents, books, and TV shows all attest to unexplained paranormal happenings on the property, and related educational resources on the subject are abundant. However, this exhibition’s focus is strictly on the images created by Bartel, regardless of whether one accepts or rejects the supernatural implications of these photographs as data.