Homecoming: bringing fishers back to washington


celebrating a conservation success story.

Homecoming: Bringing Fishers Back to Washington is a 400 sq ft traveling exhibition co-designed by myself, a small team of classmates from the University of Washington, and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park- Seattle Unit. Many visitors stumble somewhat accidentally into Klondike, a free park in historic Pioneer Square. They arrive equally unexpectedly in this colorful storybook of an exhibit.

Fishers--wolverines' smaller-clawed cousins--were expunged from their old-growth habitats in Washington by the mid 20th century. The logging industry, fur trade, pesticide usage, and general human development were all bad news for this species, which is particular about where and how it mates and dens. 

Over the last decade the National Park Service has partnered with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the US Forest Service, many local tribes, and an amazing amount of private landowners to bring populations of fishers safely from Canada and oversee their sustained re-introduction to forests around Washington state. 


i worked closely with klondike over the course of several months to make this exhibit come to life.

Visitors can use a field guide to find the species hidden in this mural of a healthy fisher ecosystem. 

Visitors can use a field guide to find the species hidden in this mural of a healthy fisher ecosystem. 

Each field guide species was contributed by a local scientific illustrator, thanks to a grant from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and a grant proposal written by yours truly.

Each field guide species was contributed by a local scientific illustrator, thanks to a grant from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and a grant proposal written by yours truly.

I designed the logo and made the fisher illustration.

I designed the logo and made the fisher illustration.

A mount of a male fisher gives visitors a sense of their size and cuteness, despite the prominent claws.

A mount of a male fisher gives visitors a sense of their size and cuteness, despite the prominent claws.

Fishers like to den in dark, secluded areas like old logs. We made this nurse log with a Sonotube and lots of epoxy. It breaks down into multiple segments so that it can travel to a fisher reintroduction site near you!

Fishers like to den in dark, secluded areas like old logs. We made this nurse log with a Sonotube and lots of epoxy. It breaks down into multiple segments so that it can travel to a fisher reintroduction site near you!

The linework for this mural and the concept for the stump labels were my doing. 

The linework for this mural and the concept for the stump labels were my doing. 


over 100 visitors helped to make the mural.

For First Thursday in May 2017, anyone could come and splash this forest with one of 19 colors! I diligently wrote a number on every leaf and crevice... well, almost all of them. By the end of the painting process, people were comfortable enough to enjoy coming up with their own solutions for questionable areas. To me, that's a participatory success story.

For First Thursday in May 2017, anyone could come and splash this forest with one of 19 colors! I diligently wrote a number on every leaf and crevice... well, almost all of them. By the end of the painting process, people were comfortable enough to enjoy coming up with their own solutions for questionable areas. To me, that's a participatory success story.


Here's how I made the linework for the mural.

Rough sketches were made with the proportion of stump-text to whole mural in mind. 

Rough sketches were made with the proportion of stump-text to whole mural in mind. 

Next, these rough sketches were printed out large and translated to a big piece of paper, which covered my entire tiny studio. The roll of paper is roughly 1/3 the size of the final mural.

Next, these rough sketches were printed out large and translated to a big piece of paper, which covered my entire tiny studio. The roll of paper is roughly 1/3 the size of the final mural.


I first sketched the linework in with a non-photo blue colored pencil, which doesn't (exactly) show up when you scan it in with ink on top.

I first sketched the linework in with a non-photo blue colored pencil, which doesn't (exactly) show up when you scan it in with ink on top.

Then I drew on top of that non-photo blue stuff with brown walnut ink and a good old-fashioned nib pen (hence the splotches.) Walnut ink allows for some layering of darkness, and I used a quill-pen to achieve some organic variation in line weight as well as a classic natural history aesthetic.

Then I drew on top of that non-photo blue stuff with brown walnut ink and a good old-fashioned nib pen (hence the splotches.) Walnut ink allows for some layering of darkness, and I used a quill-pen to achieve some organic variation in line weight as well as a classic natural history aesthetic.

Here's how the whole thing looked. My dad and stepmom visited-- here we are holding up the ready-to-scan drawing at Klondike.

Here's how the whole thing looked. My dad and stepmom visited-- here we are holding up the ready-to-scan drawing at Klondike.

Then I started thinking about colors. I needed to simplify the color scheme enough so that people could easily help paint.

Then I started thinking about colors. I needed to simplify the color scheme enough so that people could easily help paint.

The mural called for tons of green, and a springtime palette. I wanted it to evoke the smell of damp duff. 

The mural called for tons of green, and a springtime palette. I wanted it to evoke the smell of damp duff. 

Finally, the thing got printed onto canvas. It's HUGE! (duh!) The print company had to do it in 6 separate panels, which made it easier for lots of people to work on at once, and harder to plan for smooth transitions (and also hard for Tarin to install later!) 

Finally, the thing got printed onto canvas. It's HUGE! (duh!)

The print company had to do it in 6 separate panels, which made it easier for lots of people to work on at once, and harder to plan for smooth transitions (and also hard for Tarin to install later!) 

This little guy was proud of the green 'clouds' he painted. 

This little guy was proud of the green 'clouds' he painted.