Artist Statement

My sculpture arises from a lifelong interest in the origins of life and the universe, and from a deep inner questioning of what it means to be human. I was born just simply wanting to know who I was and am motivated by a curiosity about who we are and why we are here. Because I am deeply connected to nature, the first pieces I made were intended to represent buds coming out the ground in spring. As I pondered them, they took on the appearance of human figures. Although I create other sculptures, I always return to the abstract figurative form which still rewards me with the same surprise of discovery.

Before I became a sculptor, I was a craftsman in wood during which time I acquired a love of materials and a fascination with the ability to transform them. Materials speak to me through their visual properties, their history and their sheer physical presence. Handling, touching and shaping earth-centric materials connects me to the planet and makes me feel alive. I use wood, stone and steel in a sculptural context, experimenting with non-verbal ways to investigate the story of human consciousness and evolution.

I derive inspiration and courage from the strength of the life force I see in all things. I am more specifically inspired by the ancient rock art of Africa, Europe and America, and by Native American world view. I am inspired by the connection of people to one another, to their own inner spirit and to the cosmos. I work within a philosophical landscape I call The Ancestors. Their story is a record of the great Life Force that permeates the universes. A sculpture becomes successful for me when it possesses more absorbing emotional energy than a resemblance to any physical reality.

Most pieces begin with an intuitive or visual image in my mind imbued with symbolism and archetype. Models are often made to record and test ideas. Materials are then chosen that embody the idea in their visual and visceral qualities. My dominant process is carving as free hand shaping which allows for the most intimate connection between the sculpture and the idea it expresses. Once roughed out a sculpture still has a long way to go to refine its shape and surface qualities. The tactile qualities of my work call viewers to also touch it. Touching connects people to the sculpture and makes them a part of its history.



A Brief Bio for a Nonlinear and Ongoing Life.


Born into a working family, Len was always making things whether for his father’s construction business or himself. His family was very religious and his youth was full of rules, restrictions and a sense of knowing the answers to all the important questions in life. The making part stuck, but not the other. Len always had more questions than there were answers.


Not fitting into the public schools because of his belief system and not fitting into the religious order because of his questions, Len spent a lot of time alone in nature. He loved the change of seasons in New England. And he loved the variety of trees, always the trees. He spent hours watching the squirrels and birds in a little patch of woods behind his home. When not outdoors Len could be found in the local library reading about natural history. Len’s dream as a boy was to be a forest ranger and live in the woods among all those other living things. Besides being fascinating to him, they never talked back or told him what to do or who to be.


Getting a secular education was not allowed, so Len’s first college degree was in theology. Again, there were lots more questions than answers. The war in Vietnam disrupted any future plans for studies and consequently he did not get back to science and biology until much later in life. In the intervening years, Len took up another deep interest of his, woodworking. Between 1978 and 1996 he operated his own cabinet and furniture shops. He also learned pattern making and boat building while honing his skills to become a true craftsman.


At 48 years old Len went back to college to reclaim his boyhood dream. He ended up working with endangered species reintroduction and management. A PhD in conservation biology was earned in 2008. One of the hardest things for him about being in school was not having a shop, but eventually he and his wife bought a house with an old building that became his studio while he finished school.


Not finding work related to his education, Len dove completely into the studio and became a full time artist. His art career had begun earlier in the 1980's when he was turning bowls and selling them at shows and in galleries around the Pacific Northwest. But now it blossomed. It turned out that making art and improving his abilities to do so was the most joyful and fulfilling part of his life.


A great assist on his journey came when his wife earned her BFA in 2010. Len says it felt like I learned so much from her and her process that I too received an education in art. He was finally able to give himself permission to say “I am an artist” and get on with it as a core part of his existence.


Len became an artist through the circumstances of his life, compelled by a desire to express himself in visual and tactile ways. The whole thing has been non-linear, sometimes seeming all upside down and backwards. He reflects, “I kept wanting something that did not seem to want me. The result is that instead of me trying to find my passion and make it happen, I let my passion find me, which really means to do what it is in me to do. Make art.”




2008   PhD. Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. School of Earth and   Environmental Sciences.

2004   MS. Washington State University, Pullman, Washington. Environmental Science and Regional Planning.

2000   BS. Portland State University, Portland, OR General Biology.

Woodworking classes

1985   Wood turning with Liam O’Neill.

1983   Joinery with Ian Kirby.

1982   Wood turning with Del Stubbs.

Woodshop experience

1978-  Len Zeoli Studios. Business owner.

2012-2017  Technical Assistant. Technical Design Studio, College of Art and Architecture, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho.


2018   Eugene Biennial, juried sculpture. Eugene OR

2015   Second Artist Collaboration Project, juried show, Spokane, WA.

2014   Sculpture “Traveling with Dignity” chosen for Washington State Artist Trust Benefit Auction.

2012   Solo show “Ancestors and Archetypes, Lewis and Clark Center for Arts and History, Lewiston, ID.

2011   “Growth Rings II” wood art show, Dahmen Artisan Barn, Uniontown, WA.

2009   “Growth Rings” wood art show, Dahmen Artisan Barn, Uniontown, WA.

2008   Northwest Woodturning Invitational at the Ridenbaugh Art Gallery, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID.

Public Art

2015-2017   “The Ancestors”. Outdoor installation of 3 sculptures for Art Currents, Coeur d’Alene, ID.


2021-2022   Visiting Artist in Residence, UC Berkeley, Berkely, CA.


Pairings, Colfax, WA

Little Pink House Gallery, Genesee, ID

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