Mark Scherer: Artist in Residence

Mark Scherer participated in the Creative Residence Program at the North Cascades Institute this December, joining the tradition of poets, naturalists, dancers and researchers who have participated in the past.

In Mark’s own words:

My home is Stehekin, Washington. The medium I work with most often is wood. I’m not a carver except in the most rudimentary way. I think of myself as a “shaper”. I use saws, files, sanding tools, and sometimes paint and glue to make my sculpture. Here are two examples of past work.

“Feets” 4′ diameter. Photo by Mark Scherer

“Twice” 17″ x 6″ x 2″. Photo by Mark Scherer

At the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, I’m working with ideas that are new to me, ideas addressing climate change. I like to make things that are pleasing and humorous. Climate Change isn’t pleasing or humorous. It scares me. If art has the power to move us, to change perceptions, to give us insights we might not otherwise see, then why not use whatever “art power” I can muster to encourage thoughtful consideration of our individual and shared culpability for where we’re taking the climate? During my Creative Residency I’m beginning tentative, “baby steps” toward that goal. I hope you’ll stay tuned.

Several weeks ago our photographer in residence Marissa Bluestein, who I often partner with on Chattermarks projects, took a series of photos of Mark in his Learning Center “woodshop” :

Although his residency has come to an end, Mark returned to the Learning Center on January 25th to give a final presentation. Afterwards, I chatted with him about his woodworking pieces and their names. He made sure to clarify that he does not consider himself a woodworker.

“I don’t call it woodworking because that’s usually about exotic woods and I don’t focus on that.”

I asked, “What would you call it then?”

He said, “Sculptures.”

“Wooden sculptures?”

“Painted, wooden sculptures.”

Below are painted, wooden sculptures from his time working in the North Cascades. Again, photos by Marissa Bluestein. Enjoy!

Graduate students from the 17th Cohort listened in on his presentation after class.

Mark presents one of his pieces.

“87 Octane” 36″ height

Mark sharing the stories behind his work.

Graduate Student Ashley Hill closely examines “The Better Angels of Our Nature.”

“Slice, Prune, Chop… How Green Do You Want to Be?”

Thank you Mark for inspiring us with your creative work! We also appreciated seeing your presentation, and sharing meals with you in the Dining Hall!


  1. Gina

    It was inspiring to meet Mark and spend time learning about his creative process. He brought wonderful energy to our winter season here at the Environmental Learning Center, and was generous with his time in sharing about his artistic process with visitors. In a National Park isolated from public transit, Mark’s statement about automobile pollution makes an impact! We look forward to meeting again and viewing his work across the mountains.

  2. Daniel Diedrich

    Mark is a true Mountain Man. He lives in the The North Cascades, true, but the North Cascades also live in him. I got to know him a bit when I lived in Stehekin for a few years. It is great to see his new works from afar. Inspired by memories and thoughts of fireside friends return and a little bit of those sharp mountains and icy waters still lives in me too.

  3. Reg Smith

    Graduated high school with Mark in Tennessee in 1961. He was always a kind and caring young man. Glad to see the great work he is doing with the people in Washington. I know he is appreciated.

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