Christopher Bartel

The Skinwalker Ranch Portfolio

First and foremost, I unequivocally convey my respect and honor to the first inhabitants of the Uintah Basin. Tribal historicity does not always square neatly with the current and prevailing traditions of Western civilization, as most of that history is written on the land. Regardless, Skinwalker Ranch is inextricably linked to the Ute people. Their distinctive understandings, rooted in cultural experience, lay the foundation for proper interpretation and contextualization of this sacred land.

Profound thanks goes to photographer Christopher Bartel. Christopher stumbled upon a subject that he felt compelled to document, and I am truly grateful he did. In doing so, he created a vast body of work and digital archive from which future generations can now examine, study, and learn about the complex history of Skinwalker Ranch and its relationship to us. I also thank my graduate assistant Patricia Ortega-Miranda for cataloging a portion of the digital archive and other related work. In addition, I want to thank the University of Maryland and the College of Arts & Humanities for their continued support of my research pursuits. The Maryland State Arts Council deserves significant praise for providing funds that underwrite portions of this online exhibition.

With tremendous appreciation, I thank artist and photo editor Christine Nguyen for assisting me with the color correction and sizing of the physical version of this portfolio. Furthermore, I am eternally grateful to my trusted and talented editor Lindsey Reinstrom, whose linguistic insight and command of the English language allow my words to be stitched together into something resembling the elegance of a finely woven Renaissance tapestry. In addition, Adrian G. Rudnyk must be recognized for providing indispensable counsel to me (from the philosopher’s perspective) on the myriad of ways in which one might interpret images such as these beyond the traditional artistic framework.

Finally, I must mention past ranch owner Robert T. Bigelow and current owner Brandon Fugal for their commitment to collecting and compiling the best data possible for scientific analysis, as well as journalist and author George Knapp, who, more than anyone, has educated the world about this unique place for over two decades.

Taras W. Matla