Summer and Winter on Opposites


In 1965, a fire nearly destroyed the First Unitarian Church of Portland. Tragically, important weavings created in 1944 by Anna Belle Crocker, who directed the Portland Art Museum from 1906–36 and by her sister, Florence, were damaged beyond repair. Many people, including internationally-renowned textile designer Dorothy Liebes, considered the Crocker sisters’ tapestry to be one of the most significant ecclesiastical weavings in the United States at the time. To replace the damaged work, four Northwest weavers were invited by the church to submit proposals based on the original tapestry’s “Tree of Life” theme. One of the oldest archetypal symbols, the “Tree of Life” spans religions and cultures from across the world.

Herrick was awarded the commission, and spent the next ten months working on drawings, design studies and the quarter-scale weaving included in this exhibition to complete her work. Using a traditional early American coverlet weave structure known as Summer and Winter, Herrick created her design by weaving block “on opposites”: one side of the piece shows a neutral tree on a colored background, and the other shows the reverse. This allowed the piece to have two different appearances, and was intended to be changed with the seasons.

Installed in the church in 1970 and still on view today, Herrick’s Tree of Life is a three-panel tapestry that spans ten feet by sixteen feet and weighs forty pounds. The work illustrates Herrick’s signature mixing of colored threads to create a distinctive palette: yellow-green mixed with dark reds, oranges and yellows for the colored areas, and a green-yellow, natural white and gray for the neutral parts.

Herrick completed numerous commissions throughout Oregon, including: St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, Corvallis; Synagogue Shaarie Torah, Portland; All Saints Catholic Church, Portland; Lincoln Tower Condominiums, Portland; Salishan Lodge (now Salishan Spa and Golf Resort), Gleneden Beach; and Sunriver Lodge (now Sunriver Resort), Sunriver.

Herrick Special Features ...

Op Art
Open Warp
Laurie Coat
Summer and Winter on Opposites
Summer and Winter Straight
Summer and Winter Polychrome

Return to the Laurie Herrick exhibition page to download writings, exhibition checklist and research documents.