E-W grad wins medal at China competition

By Brian Soergel | Nov 28, 2016
Courtesy of: Nathaniel Cook Nathaniel Cook holds an example of his jade sculptures.

Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate Nathaniel Cook was invited to present his handcrafted jade sculptures at Zi Gang Bei, an annual international jade carving exhibition held Nov. 18-20 in Suzhou, China.

The exhibit included sculptural works by at least 30 modern jade artists from 10 different countries, including Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.

All of the nephrite jade Cook uses in his sculptures is located and harvested from Washington state’s Cascade Mountains by local jade mining company, Washington Jade, where Cook works.

“I've been into artistic work in general since about fourth-grade, but my focus up until I left college was almost exclusively on theater rather than physical and visual arts,” Cook said.

“I didn't start carving until the winter of 2012, and that was mostly because I had been working with my dad on this jade mining company and we needed to start showcasing some of the material.

“Dad had decided that he wasn't any good at it, so he had me make a couple of ‘sample cabs’ in some of the early material we had harvested off of our claims through the course of our early exploration and staking efforts.”

Cook, 26, who graduated from the University of Washington, said he had displayed some minimal amount of aptitude for carving at that point, so in summer 2013 he attended Deborah Wilson's jade carving workshop at the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association's Camp Brotherhood.

“Deborah became something of a mentor to me at that point,” said Cook, who receive a Hazel-Miller Foundation Scholarship in his last year at Edmonds-Woodway, as well as a couple of other scholarships intending to keep promising students local, so that contributed to my feeling that I wanted to keep myself in this area.

"Really, I could carve jade anywhere, but Edmonds is very supportive of its artistic community, so I'm inclined to stick around and try to give something back to the city that has given me so much.”

Cook said he wants to show his work in Edmonds.

“Part of the issue, though, is that the lack of millennial artists displaying work in Edmonds makes it a bit difficult to find a gallery that my work really fits into, at least around downtown Edmonds. So my focus has primarily been international, especially since the jade world is so strongly centered in China.”


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