Following Stephanie Brockway around Monticello Antiques Marketplace is a lesson in seeing.

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An old wooden float is actually a perfect piece of Douglas Fir, ripe for carving. There’s something special about a child’s chair from the 1940s — its backstory hinted at with once-bright green paint, the name “Violet” written on the bottom. And a sturdy millinery form, smooth and glowing from season after season of handiwork, is primed to make a bold transformation.

The simple truth is everything here was once something. But in Stephanie Brockway’s hands, anything here could become something else.

"To me, I like the energy of a past life – elevating the forgotten into something beautiful."

— Stephanie Brockway

Brockway’s technique itself is a combination of old and new; the ancient craft of wood-carving paired with newer art forms of assemblage and found objects. Working intuitively in her studio, she coaxes faces from antique tools, newel posts and the recently found millinery form.

Stephanie Brockway at work

Stephanie Brockway at work

Greg Bond, Oregon Art Beat   / OPB

“So, as I carve, it just kind of comes to life. … I just listen to the wood,” says Brockway.

Soon, Brockway sees what she’s looking for. To be sure, there’s a strong echo of its old life, but even more, a bright new energy from the artist’s hand.

“I kind of just want something fun and interesting — maybe a face people didn’t expect to see,” says Brockway. “I never go for perfection. I like the artist’s fingerprints on the piece.”

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