Crystal Mountain, Washington: Circle of Life Tower, Sculpture – Steel, Wood, Mosaic & Mixed Media by Mary Iverson
Describe your artistic style, mediums, and influences:
I love to create landscape paintings of all sizes, from tiny works on paper to giant murals. I very rarely create anything three dimensional, so the tower I created for Crystal Mountain is an exciting new direction for me.
Please tell us about your connection to the Crystal Mountain landscape:
My connection to Crystal Mountain goes way back to my childhood. I learned to ski at Crystal when I was two years old, and I have been skiing here with my family ever since. Every time I am on the mountain, I feel the joyful memories of all those years of family ski days, racing with Crystal Mountain Alpine Club, and hanging out with my friends in Green Valley. I learned to love the mountain in summer, too, going on family hikes with my mom, who taught us the names of all the wildflowers and shared her love of springtime in the Cascades.
Last year I joined the ski patrol, hoping to make new friends and give back to the place I love so much. Right away, the patrol gave me a warm welcome and I am very happy to feel part of the mountain community again.
Creating this artwork is more than I could dream of in all my days skiing here. It stands for everything the mountain has given me, in the joyful times with my family and friends.
Tell us about the concept for this work and the process of creating it:
The Circle of Life Tower stands for the beauty of nature in its path through time. Every visual element wraps around the central tower, in a spiral that echoes the cyclical aspects of nature: moon cycles, the changing seasons, the force of the wind, the four directions, the fleeting beauty of wildflowers, and the power of animals.
At the base of the structure is a section of an old chairlift tower, a fragment from the original chair one (C1). The history in this piece of steel inspired the rest of the tower’s design. From there, I added fun sculptural elements, like a beautiful mosaic and a whirligig made of skis. When I drew the bird on top of my design, it got me thinking about Coast Salish story poles, and I knew I had to collaborate with a First Nations artist. When I saw the work of artist Keith Stevenson from the Muckleshoot Tribe, I was totally inspired. He carved the red cedar Thunderbird on the top of the tower, and the colorful animals that encircle the base of the mosaic. Together, the sculptures tell the story of the land his family has stood on since time immemorial. My friends at Tieton Mosaic translated my painting of Mount Rainier into a magical kaleidoscope with a thousand pieces of colorful glass. Spinning above the mosaic is a whirligig of skis, given to me by my family and the ski patrol, to represent my community on the mountain. The steel work was all done by the talented fabricators at Dillon Works.
By working on this project and adding to the landscape of Crystal Mountain, what do you hope to achieve and what conversations do you hope to inspire?
This tower stands for joy and beauty. I hope that everyone who sees it thinks about their connection to nature, their friendships, and the ancient story of the land.