Kathleen Werner is the creator of Etazin, a spectacular piece of art that remains housed on the Taliesin West campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Scottsdale. Etazin serves both as a functional chair and a stunning visual display that spans a massive eight-and-a-half feet tall and eight feet wide. The chair consists of several steel rings, which are mobile and able to turn. The piece resembles an elegant gyroscope that stands against a lush desert backdrop. Werner states that, “After designing and fabricating this chair, the school decided to have it as a permanent installation on the grounds. They do tours daily of the student shelters out in the desert, and the Etazin chair is a wonderful part of the tour. Adults and children alike love sitting in the chair and spinning around and taking pictures. It is a big hit!”
Werner recounts her earliest experience as an artist to back when she was a child. She recalls summers spent with her uncle – a master bookbinder. “I used to help him out in his little shop at the old Mission Mill in Salem, Oregon,” she explained. “One of the things he taught me was how to marble paper. I loved how we were able to move the dyes around, creating these beautiful organic patterns. The style of artwork I do, although much grander, has a hint of that age-old technique.”
Later in life, she began her career as an interior designer. She says that when she couldn’t find the right piece of artwork for a wall she would often just create one herself. “It wasn’t until I came to NYC that I decided to get a studio space and focus on a collection,” she said.
Werner attended an immersion program in Scottsdale at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in 2014. The program lasts two months, but Werner stayed four months to complete the Etazin project. “It was hard to leave at all; I really fell in love with the school and the people…if I had the intention of being an architect, I would have been thrilled to stay another three years,” Werner said.
Currently, Werner is working on a series of large Geotic paintings for a show in Manhattan at the end of April. “I transitioned to doing paintings when I moved to NYC after my stint at Taliesin. I make almost all of my canvases by hand, but I believe they come out feeling much more substantial,” she said.
She speaks fondly of times spent flying with her father, a pilot. “Flying with my father gave me a different perspective, and I doubt my style of artwork would exist without these experiences. For me, it was staring down at these beautiful, natural landscapes…it was that intense awe and peace I felt that I hope to impart on my viewers.” Furthermore, she emphasizes that her paintings “are to highlight the beauty of the earth, and it is very important to me to do what I can to help to preserve that.”
In addition to the installation at Taliesin West, Werner has left her mark on Arizona with another sculpture, a square-shaped lounge chair called Etazin Square, which is on permanent art collection at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa in Gainey Village. A third Etazin design and location will be announced in 2017.
For more on Kathleen Werner, visit kathleenwerner.com.
Jennifer Gartner is a high school English teacher in her daily life. She enjoys the outdoors, hiking, camping, and anything that relates to preserving and maintaining natural resources. She likes to freelance write and sometimes indulges in fiction for fun. She lives in Phoenix.
Photograph by Nathan Rist.