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Ekaterina Sky, Artist
Feature, Transplants

Ekaterina Sky, Artist 

Artist Ekaterina Sky with one of her murals. Photo: Courtesy Ekaterina Sky

Ekaterina Sky, 30, describes herself as an “impact artist.” “I paint to raise awareness about vanishing ecosystems of our planet and to shine a light onto areas in the world that need help,” she says about her work.

Born in Yaroslavl, Russia, northeast of Moscow, Ekaterina left Russia when she was six, and traveled the world with her mother, spending time in Canada before coming to America.

Ekaterina bought a house in Old Topanga three and a half years ago. “It’s so beautiful here,” she said. “I never thought there could be a place with so much wildness, wildlife and beauty in nature that is close to a big city. Not just any big city. A city that has everything you need. It’s such a short drive. It feels like Topanga is a secret spot. Sometimes I speak to people in LA and they don’t know where Topanga is.”

Ekaterina has a studio in Lincoln Heights where she paints, close to the arts district Downtown. “I want to be close to all the galleries and the art industry,” she said. 

More about Ekaterina’s art and mission later. First, she wants to share a story about something magical that happened to her while on a hike off Skyline on her thirtieth birthday: November 22, 2023.

“I had always imagined that on my thirtieth birthday I would have a lavish party with many people. I did do that on my twenty-sixth, but, this year, I wanted to spend my birthday in silence and fasting. Only Topangans would understand that.”

As Ekaterina left home for her birthday hike, she had plenty on her mind.

“I wanted to ask some questions. I thought, wait a second, all the answers that I need are within myself. So why don’t I go to my spot where I usually meditate, where I’d spent a lot of time going through a grieving phase last year after a break-up from an eight-year relationship? It was difficult to go through that. I went on the hike alone.

“I thought, why am I doing this on my thirtieth birthday? I’m just making myself feel lonely. Then I thought, wait, I am never alone. What happened was proof of this.”

Some of the messages Topanga hikers wrote in a journal that artist Ekaterina Sky accidentally left by a tree. Photo by Claire Fordham

As Ekaterina sat down beside a favorite tree, she felt something behind her back. It was a journal she had left there a couple of months before. “I had left an empty journal,” she said. “I didn’t leave it on purpose, I forgot it. 

“I started filming a little video that day because I felt it was a significant day. I opened the journal and there were words in there. I put the journal down and started filming on my phone. I opened the journal and it began with ‘Dear Stranger’. Other people started leaving messages in it, giving life advice. And so profound. 

“It answered the questions I had been asking. It was a gift from the universe, not only as a blessing but a blessing in a physical form.”

Ekaterina Sky holding the empty journal she accidentally left by a tree in Topanga into which other hikers left uplifting messages. Photo: Claire Fordham

Here are some of the handwritten entries in the journal:

Fall deeply in love. Sing in front of others. What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Quit my job and become an artist. What about you?

Ekaterina said, “Last year was the most heartbreaking year of my life. I lost everything I hold dear. A year later and things are so beautiful and now everything makes sense. Never give up. I almost did and I’m so glad I’m here.”

Ekaterina wrote in the journal after a good cry, “Thanks to the people who left this book and connected us all. I don’t know you and you don’t know me, now we are as one. Love to all. Peace to all. Blessings to all. Sat Nam.”

All the entries are written in the same black biro. Ekaterina explains, “I didn’t leave a pen there. Someone else did. It wasn’t my pen. Someone co-created it with me. The journal smelled wet. It was the end of September, so not a lot of rain. The pages were a little bit wet, but the ink didn’t run.”

Ekaterina has a plan for the book. “I recently finished a painting of many hands forming a lotus flower and out of the lotus flower there is a DNA that twists and turns. The light shines from above. The piece is called We Are One as a reminder that any conversation happening in the world has at its core that we are the same. We all share 99.9 percent of the same DNA. Strangers can communicate with each other without seeing each others’ faces, and share wisdom and love.”

Taking the art piece to the streets with a big sign at its core, Ekaterina invited people to put a fingerprint on the painting to signify that oneness. “I want to put this painting onto journals and put journals in different places—in Topanga first, then around the world. It will be so fascinating to see how people react and then collect them and create an art piece. It could be such a beautiful social experiment. Of course, I have to put one back where I found this one, and leave a pen.”

In 2021, Ekaterina completed a hundred days of silence to birth a new art collection. “Silence created a safe environment where I could dive deeper into my spirituality and I had people around me who understood that,” she said. Ekaterina is now working on a new art project, Life Force, about the deforestation happening in Indonesia’s rainforest. “I’m going to show that it can happen in any place where we live and how we can preserve what we have by connecting back to earth and focusing on what matters to us. Every painting in this collection came out of the visions I received during the hundred days of silence. The paintings are very dear to me. I felt vulnerable to share them, but so far I have seen people cry in front of them.”

How would Ekaterina’s ideas be received in Russia? 

“Russian people are very connected to nature. I think that’s one of the gifts I received growing up there. We spent a lot of time out of the city and I think Russians would encourage my art and love it. The spirituality of it and receiving visions—Russians might not understand that, but people in Topanga would because we are connected to this other realm.”

Ekaterina has started an artists’ collective, LA Creatives, to bring like-minded people together. “We are going to hold monthly events. Any artist looking to connect with other creatives is welcome. By art I mean drawing, painting, sculpture… everything. Musicians, filmmakers, dancers, actors. We can express our creative voice in so many different forms. It doesn’t matter what the medium is. Sometimes art can be just a smile.”

The aim is to support one another and create new art together. “Imagine artists from all different disciplines coming together to create something significant, beautiful and impactful to shift the cultural discourse and open people’s minds to make a difference in the world.”

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