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Multimedia artist says Mercer Island life encouraged creativity

Island native Mark Berry paints in his studio in Ellensburg, Wash. - Contributed Photo
Island native Mark Berry paints in his studio in Ellensburg, Wash.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Mixed-media artist and Mercer Island native Mark Berry is on a mission to share his creative talent with the world.

Born in Seattle and raised on the Island, this veteran of the artistic world brings lessons learned in his youth to realization in his work now. Showcasing a broad range of media and exhibiting ease with each vehicle, Berry employs photography, filmmaking, video, and paint in his pieces, frequently combining them.

"I'm definitely not limited to one media source," Berry says.

An important pillar of Berry's artistic identity was his upbringing on Mercer Island. Raised in a family that encouraged creativity, Berry started exploring the arts at a young age.

"I always had a pencil or paintbrush in my hand. My parents are both artistic. I've had incredible support from my parents, from teachers, from friends at school," he said.

Berry notes the impact of the picturesque landscape of the South end of the Island as a setting during his formative years. "It was a great place to grow up. Lots of woods, lots of water."

Having attended Lakeview Elementary, South Mercer Junior High, and Mercer Island High School, it is clear that teachers indeed had a hand in guiding Berry's path.

"In high school, Mrs. Patton was one of my art teachers. Senior year, I was taking three art classes. A large part of the classroom was like my own studio. I had pretty much taken over the whole back part," he says.

Recalling a specific incident from his high school years, Berry says that Mrs. Patton even suggested having his parents reimburse the school due to the amount of paper Berry was using.

At a young age, Berry began entering his work in shows, exhibitions and competitions, which he believes pushed him as an artist. One of his favorite teachers, Mr. Haugland, encouraged him at a young age to "practice, practice, practice," advice that has stuck with him through the years, and which he considers to be applicable in all areas of life.

"I believe creativity and talent are God-given. I want to use my talent and abilities, I don't want to bury them, I want to share them. My inspiration is that truth and beauty exist, life is fleeting and has a purpose, and that there is a lot of joy in the creative process," Berry says.

Currently calling Ellensburg his home, Berry is passionate about his involvement in local schools’ art programs. Teaching pro-bono and fighting for recognition of the arts in the education system, he points out the disparity of an ever-present emphasis on sports.

"We need to put that same energy into the arts," Berry says.

In addition to participating in about 30 art festivals a year, Berry has been displaying his art at Summer Celebration for the past five years. Now working on a collaboration with the Children's Miracle Network, Berry is enthusiastic about his new series of pastel portraits depicting mothers and their children.

"I'm constantly looking, drawing, painting. I don't ever stand still. I'm creating, I've got ideas. I love color, I love to be directly involved in the creative process … It's been a great journey," he says.

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