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Wood and Weaving

An Oregon artist combines mediums in a new Sunriver Resort display

Monica Setziol-Phillips has been combining hardwood and fiber in art for over thirty years. “When you carve wood you’re taking away to form what you want, when you’re weaving you’re adding to your building. So it’s a nice completion to put the two together,” she says. The Oregon artist’s latest merging of these mediums can be found in a piece titled The Four Seasons, hanging at the newly renovated lodge at Sunriver Resort.

Just above the fireplace of the resort’s living room hangs the four-paneled installation Setziol-Phillips created. Reminiscent of the high desert’s mountainous landscape, the custom seven-foot high by 18-inch wide panels depict branching aspens. Alaskan yellow cedar is hand carved into soft, arching shapes that reach skyward. “I used it because of the color,” she says of the cedar, noting her intention to complement the light of the remodeled lodge room. Beneath the wooded scene is an intricate wrapping of horizontal weaving in varied earth tones that represent changing seasons.

Last year, Sunriver Managing Director Tom O’Shea commissioned Setziol-Phillips to craft a contemporary piece in anticipation of a large-scale remodel intended to update the resort’s living room and two dining venues. While she knew the piece was to be a nod to the Pacific Northwest landscape, she also gave it a twist by incorporating a Middle Eastern rug technique known as Soumak.

“Soumak gives you that rich texture. It’s a slow process, but it really draws me in,” she says, adding that few local weavers have attempted this particular woven art form. Belonging to the family of flat weaves, like rugs, Soumak is usually finely woven and intricately designed as opposed to made primarily for durability. Setziol-Phillips also prefers utilizing wool fabrics on a linen warp (the yarn set lengthwise on a loom). Soumak involves a wrapping procedure that requires fibers to bend nicely without being too brittle, adding to the fine detail of the work. “I love working with the fibers and I love the color possibilities,” she says of the style. “The way you can intertwine threads is what I really love.”

Setziol-Phillips began her career as a weaver and added carving to her skills after working with her father, Oregon wood artist Le Roy Setziol. Described as the “father of woodcarving” in the Pacific Northwest in an OPB television documentary, Le Roy Setziol was famous for his stylized wood panels, carved reliefs and free-standing statues, many of which ended up being featured in galleries, museums and public spaces across Oregon. Setziol-Phillips credits her inspiration for carving to growing up around her father. “My father (let me be) an old -time apprentice,” she says, recalling that he allowed her into his wood studio but let her develop her own style. “He didn’t give much instruction, but rather encouraged me to try things on my own with his brief comments,” she recalls.

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The idea to marry woodcarving and weaving came to her one day after college, when she attempted to hang her woven work from spare wood found in her father’s studio. As the years went on, she learned how to sculpt and incorporated this newfound skill into her own unique art.

Setziol-Phillips resides in Sheridan, Oregon, and although neither of her parents are alive today, she takes solace in working out of the 22-acre property they owned in a beautiful valley. There she works every day, weaving in the house and carving in the shop. “There are lots of trees and it’s very calming and soothing,” she says of the property.

She appreciates the calm environment, as she considers combining the two forms of art to be a methodical act. When asked whether the weaving or wood comes first, she exclaims, “The weaving always comes first! It’s a thoughtful process and neither one is spontaneous, like painting can be. I have to plan fairly well before I start.”

Examples of Setziol-Phillips’ work can be found throughout the Northwest, including The Attic Gallery of Portland and The Freed Gallery of Lincoln City, as well as a three-piece installation at the renowned Allison Inn and Spa in Newberg. “It’s one of the main joys of my life to be able to do my work.”

See Setziol-Phillips’ new work at the lodge at Sunriver Resort, open year-round. To find out more about Monica Setziol-Phillips, contact Billye Turner, Art Consultant, at 541-382-9398. 

 

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