Kathleen Werner was born in Tacoma, Washington, but grew up moving countless times due to her father’s occupation. Since her father was a pilot, Werner recalls growing up in a plane “staring out the window down at the beauty of the Earth.” She also added that it made her feel peaceful while “sitting in awe of these natural colors and textures” below.
When Werner was 20 years old, she settled down in Scottsdale, Arizona and opened her own boutique store that she personally designed called Zen. Her store featured Asian art and decor, and sold meditation devices and teas from all over the world. “One day, a now dear friend of mine, Mr. Joe Polish, walked into the store… He loved how I had designed the place and asked if I would consider decorating his home,” Werner said during her interview with The Passionista Project.
Since then, Werner designed a few residential homes and enjoyed every moment of it. However, she admitted that she “felt constrained by the boundaries of working within a pre-existing space.” This led Werner to pursue architecture, and attended Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture: Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona. According to Werner, her time at Taliesin “truly honed [her] eye for geometry and composition” and made her realize that there is “a parallel between architecture and fine arts.”
Prior to leaving Taliesin, Werner wanted to leave her mark on the campus with a permanent interactive art piece. She said that her inspiration came one night while sitting in Frank Lloyd Wright’s private garden. “He had incorporated a moon gate as a passage through the wall to the adjacent yard,” she described, “[t]he curve of the circle was very hammock-like and I wanted to make a chair.” This inspired Werner’s famous Etazin chair. However, this is no ordinary chair; she wanted an outdoor interactive piece that involved its surroundings. “I really wanted to make the rings turn so one could face multiple directions, enjoying all the beautiful views the lush landscape had to offer,” said Werner. With an idea in mind, she had also picked out the material she wanted to use for her piece. During her interview with JustLuxe, she stated that she had always admired the look of natural steel and that is how she envisioned her Etazin chair. Currently, Werner’s interactive outdoor art piece is now part of Taliesin’s permanent installation. At the same time, the Etazin chair can also be seen on the streets of Manhattan at 48th and 3rd, where it encouraged people to sit, watch the crowd, and take photos. Similar, yet different, Werner also created Etazin Square chairs that are currently in place at the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa in Gainey Valley.
Not only does Werner make interactive and outdoorsy art chairs, she eventually shifted her art focus and medium to painting. She moved to New York and found a studio where she can focus her time on paintings. Currently, Werner is working on her Ecliptic painting series, which are “designs centered geometries and creates a portal with the use of multiple varied symmetries.” With her background in architectural design, Werner found a way to combine fine arts and architecture, which led to her “Nouveau Art Deco” style that created highly sophisticated art and is seen as timeless. With the way she incorporates shapes, particularly circles, and the way dark and neutral colors interact with each other, it does not make the piece too overwhelming in the eye, yet it still adds complexity. When looking at her Ecliptic painting series, it feels like the viewer is looking back from the past and stepping into the Roaring Twenties, as if drinking champagne with Jay Gastby, a character from a famous novel called The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Besides being an artist, Werner is also involved in her community. According to her bio, Werner is a member of the National Art Club in Manhattan. She is also on the board of directors of the Taliesin Fellows, Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture Alumni Organization.
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