Mark Stewart

Levi Freeman-Shephard, Reporter

West High art teacher Mark Stewart wound up in Anchorage as many people do; by seeking adventure.“Ultimately I got my teaching degree because I wanted to get out of Indiana,” he says.

Stewart interviewed with the Anchorage School District at a job fair when another school in Indiana already hired him. But, “There was this big sign with a guy in a kayak saying ‘Explore Alaska!’” Stewart said. A year passed and Stewart remained in Indiana, and then one day he got a call from a principal at Chugiak High School. “They told me that I was on a potential hiring list… but there was a hiring freeze on,” he said.

Stewart told them that he had never been to Anchorage and that he would have to come and check it out first. He began searching for hotels online and found the black Angus Inn. “I stayed at the Black Angus hotel… I found a hotel online that served steaks, so I thought that sounds good.”

After the summer began to come to an end two weeks before the start of the next school year he got a call from the principal at Chugiak.  So with two weeks to spare Stewart decided to go for it and began packing all of his stuff. “We turned around and packed up the car with whatever we could fit and drove 4,000 miles to be here. With those two weeks I had time to get rid of a bunch of stuff, store stuff and haul what we could. So I got here literally the day before teachers had to report to school and that was in 2003,” he said.

Stewart has been an artist his whole life. Born and raised in Indianapolis Indiana surrounded by farmers and hard working blue collared individuals, Stewart was the black sheep by pursuing art. As a result of the variety of his art forms Stewart is influenced by as variety of different artists. “In terms of painting what Jackson Pollock was doing as a an abstract expressionist, you can kind of see that in my painting with the splatters, things he was doing with his color layering I do that in some of the backgrounds.”

Originally Stewart thought that he would become a cartoonist or an animator, which he would pursue later during college. Stewart has been educated at Vincennes University where he got an Associate’s Degree in Graphic Arts. He also received his teaching degree in Bachelor’s of Art Education from the Herron School of Art in Indianapolis.

Mark Stewart continually inspires his students to achieve higher heights and to push their limits. Charlie Lowell is in Stewart’s IB art class. “Having an art teacher that can reflect his passions so well… having such a talented teacher makes me want to recommend his class to other students,” Lowell says.