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Carolyn Mary Kleefeld


CAROLYN: Being an artist, I am the translator of my experience and thus am the author of my life. Since each of us experiences something in our own unique way, everything we create is essentially autobiographical. I am at once the tool, and the work. The universe is strumming the strings of my nervous system and I record the songs. After the songs are born, either in my paintings, drawings, prose, or poetry, I study and endlessly see different perspectives depending on my own state of being, or cycle of evolvement.

Last Fall, I gave a reading in Monterey at the Cafe Portofino titled “Art as Evolution’s Mirror”-my theme being that when artists are working directly from their emerging consciousness, their art is their most honest mirror. I mean, when the work comes from the inner development of the artist, rather than from imitation. Most artists are like engineers reproducing the familiar. This type of art, from the outside in, is not the same art as art that is being created as part of an emerging consciousness. If artists are not involved in the inner consciousness of their work, they can’t learn by it.

But each of us has a unique path, and none are to be judged. It’s just that for me the conscious reflection is part of the fun of discovery, so I’m blessed with this tool which shines light on my work. Symbolic poetry, which is my bridge of translation, offers a kind of insight similar to the I Ching. It reflects back to the participant-viewer or reader. It is a kind of Rorschach, revealing from the truth of the unconscious one’s inner shadow.

This way of living requires constant preparation, keeping oneself clear enough to create the space to ride the constant waves of invention. The process is one of digestion, assimilation and integration of the universal flux.

RMN: Do you think you benefited by having a formal art training, and how have you incorporated that?

CAROLYN: In both my painting and poetry, I learned what didn’t inspire me. It served to tell me I was to sculpt my own path, sing my own unique song. “Find your own voice,” as Anais Nin wrote to me while I was writing Climates of the Mind.

RMN: How easy do you find it to be objective about your own creations, and what do you think are the most important qualities that a good critic should have in order to evaluate something from a non-biased standpoint?

CAROLYN: There is no such thing as being objective. Every observer has a particular set of prejudices and preferences, so it isn’t possible for myself or a critic to be non-biased. The most essential quality for a critic to have is to be aware of this.

DJB: When you’re in need of inspiration, where do you turn?

CAROLYN: It depends on what cycle or season I’m in. It could range from quiet meditation in a beautiful environment, to dashing somewhere for social stimulation.

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