Circle of Life Tower: Celebrating Crystal’s Culture and Community

Artist Mary Iverson Works with Muckleshoot Tribe & Local Artists

Written by Caitlin Habenicht

Photo of Mary and Tieton Mosaic Team

As Alterra Mountain Company continues to invest in each of their resort locations across the country, they have gifted each destination in their portfolio the funds to develop a public art installation to capture the essence of the mountain community in each location. Alterra has named this project the ‘Forward Stance Studio’ as each destination’s art piece focuses on an element of social responsibility.

Here at Crystal Mountain, in the heart of the Cascades, we chose to select an artist to recognize the natural beauty of the land and the role Crystal plays in the environment. Harnessing one of our core values, environmental sustainability, was one of our biggest priorities in this project.

After receiving over 40 art submissions, we were captivated by Seattle-based artist, Mary Iverson. Nestled at the base area now stands the ‘Circle of Life Tower’, a representation of our role within the environment and surrounding land. Mary’s art tells a story; with the attention centered on the heart and soul of the mountain. Iverson, who is recognized for her landscape paintings, created the ‘Circle of Life Tower’ from steel, wood, tile mosaic, and mixed media through collaboration with Muckleshoot traditional wood carver Keith Stevenson, Dillon Works Fabricators, and Tieton Mosaics. It was a priority for Iverson to work with a Muckleshoot artist to embrace the tribe’s historical significance to the region.

On the journey to repurpose materials and create a sustainable representation, Iverson said “my first thought was to use a chairlift tower.” As the chairlift became the main structural element for the installation, Mary then started building the rest of her vision.

“I came up with this impossibly challenging piece of art that I had no clue how to make- I had a wonderful team to support me and we did it” Mary stated as she discussed the many hands that helped bring this vision to life. With help from Crystal Mountain, Keith Stevenson, Dillion Works Fabricators, and Tieton Mosaics, each member brought their expertise and resources, contributing to the success of the endeavor.

To recognize the land that Crystal Mountain occupies, Keith Stevenson, First Nations Muckleshoot traditional wood carver, collaborated with Mary to create stunning resin art figures of the animals that are in our ecosystem. Salish art incorporates different design elements and shapes to tell a story. When designing these figures, Keith emphasized the four seasons being a primary consideration. The extreme weather elements on the mountain and how quickly they can change meant there was a need to keep these figures intact year-round. Keith shared “This was different; something I had never done”. Keith started out by carving the animals from wood, and then sent them through resin, which Keith had never experimented with. The process was new and unique to him and now something that can be considered when creating future projects.

“This is a piece of art I put my whole soul into” – Mary Iverson


The ‘Circle of Life Tower’ not only represents the incredible nature and community that surrounds us, but a continuous circle of life that will thrive on our mountain for generations to come. From our mountain goers to our surrounding ecosystems, the ‘Circle of Life Tower’ stands as a reminder of our connection to nature, and the ancient story of the land.


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