Carolyn Mary Kleefeld | Artist

Acclaimed Artist

Deep Truths Within and Around

“Carolyn is a spiritual artist. Her worldview emphasizes a respect for all living creatures and an openness to primal natural forces as a model for integration in our fragmented world.

True creativity involves breaking through inhibitions. In our society, which emphasizes market values and objectivity, attaining true creative freedom is fraught with challenges. To help overcome these obstacles, Carolyn prefers to paint quickly, capturing the spontaneity of the moment. Working in the immediate moment involves chance. Carolyn believes spontaneity is a means to tap into truths that lay beyond oneself. In this, she belongs to a lineage of avant-garde artists such as the composer John Cage, who advocated using chance to undermine the role of ego in art. Indeterminate techniques create a situation of active non-intention. Carolyn believes that when people let go and relinquish total control, they are in a better position to grasp the subtle messages and deep truths both within and around them. She lets herself function as an ‘instrument’ or mediator of nature, becoming a neutral conduit.

Color is essential to the way Carolyn works. Often a painting originates with a color impression—red, blue, or gold—that ignites her imagination and provides a starting point for a series of cascading relationships, synthesizing lyrics, color and poetic symbolism into unrestrained, liberating improvisations. As she explains, ‘Color holds emotional vibrations and emotions are the brain of the instincts.’

Carolyn understands the entire world as a great metaphysical structure involving the essential mysteries of time, space, matter, and fate. She paints to reveal these eternally mysterious truths. By capturing these universal wonders in a work of art, she invites us to grasp the essential paradox of life. That is the great gift of her art.”

— the late Michael Zakian, PhD., Former Curator and Director of the Frederick R. Wiseman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, from the book, Visions from Big Sur
Carolyn Mary Kleefeld | Artwork Categories

Carolyn has explored many styles for her artwork. They are organized into several categories. You may see and explore more of her artwork by using the button below.

Early Abstracts

Later Abstracts


Carolyn Mary Kleefeld | Artwork Statement

Art, like music, offers a language beyond words. To be innovative, it must be created from an inner wilderness, free of stale and redundant concepts. If art arises from an inner necessity to express rather than from a preconceived idea of beauty or style, then it can reflect, in symbolic imagery, our primal nature and oneness with all things. Through the instrument of my being, I let intuitive experiment choose color and form, a practice of invention comparable to musical improvisation. For me art is a spontaneous journey on the crest of the Tao’s wave, an exploration born of passion, spawned by the Mystery. Initially, I am the maiden falling in love – then later, the ruthless editor-analyst. Ultimately art is an innocent interactive mirror of my innermost process, whisking me out of time into the Timeless. My life’s passion is to create art from this unconditioned well of being and to inspire such a journey in others.

Carolyn Mary Kleefeld | Curriculum Vitae

Carolyn has created an extensive and diverse body of paintings and drawings, ranging in style from Expressionist to Abstract to Figurative. In her language of symbolic imagery, Carolyn expresses the passions of the human heart and a pantheistic reverence for the wilderness she inhabits. The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California exhibited a retrospective of Carolyn’s paintings and drawings and published an exhibition catalog, Carolyn Mary Kleefeld: Visions from Big Sur, with art from the exhibit and a commentary by museum curator and director, Michael Zakian, PhD. Other major solo exhibitions include The Divine Kiss at the Karpeles Manuscript Library and Museum in Santa Barbara, California and Shreveport, Louisiana, Art, Poetry, and Reflective Prose at the Walter Lee Avery Gallery at the Seaside, California City Hall, Parallel Universes: Visions for the 21st Century at the Stowitts Museum of Art in Pacific Grove, California, A Retrospective from Abstract to Neo-Impressionism in San Francisco, California, and a poetry reading and art exhibit at Gallerie Illuminati in Santa Monica, California. Carolyn has also exhibited in numerous group exhibitions. Carolyn’s award-winning art is in the permanent collection, among others, of The Downey Museum of Art, The Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, The Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, and The Dylan Thomas Theater, in Swansea, Wales. In addition to being featured in art magazines, textbooks, and on the cover of poetry books, Ms. Kleefeld’s art can be found in the personal collections of Ted Turner, in the estates of Laura Archera Huxley, and Dr. Timothy Leary, as well as in hospitals and galleries nationwide.

We invite you to visit the permanent art and literary archive at the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach.


Selected Exhibitions

Solo Exhibitions

In Between the Silence, Inaugural Exhibition of the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach — 2022.

Thirty Years of Abstract Visions, Ventana Gallery, Ventana Inn and Spa, Big Sur, CA — 2014.

The Divine Kiss Traveling Exhibition, Karpeles Manuscript Museum and Library, Shreveport, LA — 2014.

The Divine Kiss Traveling Exhibition, Karpeles Manuscript Museum and Library, Santa Barbara, CA — 2013.

Carolyn Mary Kleefeld: Visions from Big Sur, a Twenty-Five Year Retrospective, Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA — 2008.

A Spring Celebration, The Phoenix Shop, Big Sur, CA — 2007.

Spring Awakening, The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 2004.

Beyond Conjecture, The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 2003.

Art, Poetry, and Reflective Prose, City Hall Walter Lee Avery Gallery, Seaside, CA — 2002.

Parallel Universes—Visions for the 21st Century, Stowitts Museum & Library, Pacific Grove, CA
The Stage Gallery, Merrick, NY
The Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, CA — 2001.

Art and Alchemy, East West Bookshop, Mountain View, CA
A Retrospective from Abstract to Neo-Impressionisn, 333 Bush Street Gallery, San Francisco, CA — 1999.

Calvin Wilkes Gallery, Cambria, CA — 1992.

Gallerie Illuminati, Santa Monica, CA — 1990.


Group Exhibitions

The Fire in the Wood, Sculptures by Edmund Kara and Drawings by Carolyn, Carl Cherry Center for the Arts, Carmel, California — 2018

A Women’s Perspective: Empowering the Female Vision, MRG Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Henry Miller Library, The Barnyard, Carmel, CA
The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 2017

The Art of the Story, American Jewish University, Los Angeles, CA
Lawrence Ferlinghetti The Sea is Calm Tonight, Artwork from America Project, Immagine & Poesia Gallery — 2016

The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 1998–2015

BJ Spoke Gallery, Huntington, NY; Old Court House Art Center, Woodstock, IL — 2014
Immagine & Poesia, Online Gallery and Literature — 2010–2014

Cosmos, New York Hall of Science, New York, NY
Juried Exhibition, Alexandria Museum of Art, Alexandria, LA — 2013

Affordable Art Fair, New York, NY — 2012

Juried Exhibition, Art Slant, 1st Place Showcase Winner — 2011

Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA — 2010

Recovered and Renewed: A Year Later, Ventana Inn at Cielo Restaurant, Big Sur, CA — 2009

Gold Rush Cultural Center, Gold Beach, OR
Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Santa Barbara, CA — 2007
Local Color Gallery, Big Sur, CA — 2005–2007

City of Monterey Art Exhibit, Alvarado Gallery, Monterey, CA
Big Sur Gallery, Carmel, CA
Mythic Inscapes, The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 2006

Litany of the Holy Days, The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 2005

First Annual Arts Bridge Show, Pacific Grove Art Center, Pacific Grove, CA
Phillips Gallery for the Healing Arts, Carmel, CA — 2003

Juried Exhibition, Orange County Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Ana, CA
Juried Exhibition, Honoring the Crone, Women Made Gallery, Chicago, IL
32nd National Art Competition, Cheyenne Artists Guild, Cheyenne, WY
Juried Exhibition, SummerArt 2001, Elinor Bliss Center for the Arts, Steamboat Springs, CO
Juried Exhibition, Women’s Caucus for the Arts, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA
Members’ Showcase, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
Juried Exhibition, 105th Catherina Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, National Arts Club, New York, NY
The Gallery at Ventana, Big Sur, CA — 2001
Annual Winter Exhibition, The Henry Miller Library, Big Sur, CA — 1998–2001

Impressionism into the Next Century, Smithstown Township Arts Council, St. James, NY
Members’ Showcase, Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
The 2nd Annual Contemporary & All Media International, Period Gallery, Omaha, NE — 2000

Nassau County Museum of Art, Roslyn Harbor, Long Island, NY
Artists for Peace and the Environment, Woodstock ’99, Woodstock, NY
Art 21 Expo, MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas, NV
It’s My Nature, Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, Fredericksburg, VA
International Juried Art Exhibition, Septemberfest ’99, Period Gallery, Omaha, NE
Figure, Face, & Form, Fredericksburg Center for the Creative Arts, Fredericksburg, VA — 1999

Benefit Auction, Synergy for the Arts, United Nations, New York, NY
Annual Members’ Exhibit, The Berkeley Art Center, Berkeley, CA
Winter Thaw, Gallery 510 Arts Guild, Ltd., Decatur, IL
Expressions of Joy, The Stage Gallery, Merrick, NY — 1998

17th Annual July 4th Exhibitions, Associated Artists of Southport, Franklin Square Gallery, Southport, NC
National Exhibition of Small Works, Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
67th Annual Open Art Competition, National Art League, Douglastown, NY
14th Annual Exhibition, Lewis-Clark Center for the Arts, Lewiston, ID
6th Annual Exhibition, The Art Center of Northern New Jersey, New Medford, NJ
Women’s Caucus for the Arts’ 25th Anniversary Show, Carving the Forces of Change, Artemisia Gallery, Chicago, IL
First Annual National All-Media Competition, Ridge Art Association, Inc., Winter Haven, FL
Small Works Exhibition, Eclectic Gallery, Tuscon, AZ
San Joaquin Open National Visual Arts Competition, City Center, Fresno, CA — 1997

International Art Spectacular, Planetary Renaissance, Brooklyn Park, MN
3rd Annual Juried Art Exhibition, Muskingum College, New Concord, OH — 1996

Malibu Art Association Exhibit, Malibu Library, Malibu, CA — 1995

Group Exhibition, Downey Museum of Art, Downey, CA
Carl Cherry Foundation, Carmel, CA — 1994
Gallery 255, Lake Tahoe, CA — 1992–1994

Glez and Harkins Gallery, La Jolla, CA
Bernice Steiner Gallery, Miami, FL — 1992–1993

Altered States, The Mind Gym, Los Angeles, CA — 1991
808 Penn Modern Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA — 1990–1991

The International Contemporary Art Fair, Los Angeles, CA — 1990


Selected Publications

Shabdaguehha / Bilingual English Bengali International Poetry Journal / The painting The Gambler Queen was featured on the cover — 2014.

The Movement in Progress: Immagine & Poesia / Cross-Cultural Communications / The painting Cerulean Shorelines was included in this anthology of poets and artists from around the world — 2013.

Dylan Thomas Walking Tour of Greenwich Village, New York / Peter Thabit Jones and Aeronwy Thomas / co-published by The Seventh Quarry Press, Swansea, Wales, and Cross- Cultural Communications, NY, USA / The painting The Evocation of Dylan Thomas was included in the body of the book — 2013.

The Colour of Saying / Dylan Thomas Centenary International Literary Contest Brochure / The painting The Evocation of Dylan Thomas was featured on the cover — 2013.

International Drama Festival / Swansea, Wales / Illustration featured on the cover — 2012.

Aldous Huxley Annual / Aldous Huxley Center, Germany / Illustration featured on the cover — 2012.

Aldous Huxley Annual / Aldous Huxley Center, Germany / Illustration featured on the cover — 2011.

International Drama Festival / Swansea, Wales / Illustration featured on the front and back covers — 2011.

Joseph Campbell Newsletter / New York / Illustration is featured — 2009.

Special Edition: Technology and Psychedelics / MAPS Bulletin, Volume XVIII, Number 1 / Illustration featured on the cover — 2008.

Skyline Magazine / Spring and Summer Edition / Illustration featured on the front and back covers — 2007.

Nuclear Policy Research Institute / Washington, District of Columbia / Holiday card cover — 2005.

Bodhi Tree Semi-Annual Newsletter / 30th Anniversary Issue / Illustration is featured on the cover — 2000.

Design for Dying / by Dr. Timothy Leary / Illustration featured on the back cover — 1997.


Painting speaks to me in a manner that is pre-lingual, expressing my primal nature, reflecting through poetic symbolism what CG Jung referred to as ‛the language of 1,000 tongues.’

Recent News

Let’s Keep in Touch

Let’s keep in touch! Subscribe to Carolyn’s newsletter to find out all the latest news about events, releases, sales and more information about the artist, author and poet.