Awakening... Carolyn Kleefeld
Big Sur Artist
Celebrates Career as Writer and Artist
 
By James Winters

 

 

To describe someone as "quintessentially Californian" is to imply a progressive spirit that embodies the hopes and dreams of many Americans. Many literary and philosophical luminaries of the 1960s and 70s came from California, rejected the notion of societal limits, and sought their dreams in a place that has been mythically described as paradise.

Carolyn Kleefeld is an author and artist who can truly be described as quintessentially Californian, using her life¹s experiences in Southern California and the coastal town of Big Sur to create a library of books and collection of art that convey the optimism and deep introspection of a woman who shook off societal norms.

In a career that has spanned nearly 30 years, she has become well-known for her powerful poetry and prose, as well as her corresponding art. Kleefeld uses the fundamentals of the I Ching to shape her worldview and present it to her readers, and writes in a fluid, graceful manner about subjects often difficult to convey through words.

Combining the sensual and the spiritual, she demonstrates how human longing for discovery, companionship, and enlightenment can create a well-balanced and fulfilled life.

Kleefeld has collaborated with several writers and thinkers who have also shaped public dialogue for the past century, including Laura Archera Huxley (wife of author Aldous Huxley), Dr. John C. Lilly, Dr. Timothy Leary, and Dr. Franz Janoff. In 1993, she was asked to participate with selected writers in "Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium."

Timothy Leary said of her work "Your wonderful writing moved me in all ways at once... You perform a rare literary alchemy, fusing science and sensuality, genetics and generosity, global biology and personal biography, high humor and profound insight, the microscopic detail of this moment with the grand sweep of evolution." Indeed, Kleefeld, at a young age, was adept at dissecting the human experience into its smallest components.

 Kleefeld was born in London, England to Mark and Amelia Taper. Taper was an extremely successful businessman, and his impact in California can be seen today in many of the theatres, medical centers and foundations in his name. As a child, she drew and told stories about fantastical figures inspired by dust particles in sunlight, a precursor to her dense, microcosmic descriptions of the world around her. Having grown up in a world of affluence, she was disturbed by the emphasis on superficial and material goods once her family moved to Beverly Hills.

Kleefeld attempted to study at formal academic institutions, such as UCLA, but found strict course construction was not suited to her. However she soon met Dr. Carl Faber, a pioneer in the area of Humanistic Psychology, who emphasized inner balance and self-actualization as the key to a healthy life. She was inspired, and studied authors who worked within this same ideology.

It was in 1980 that Kleefeld decided move to the coastal community of Big Sur, which was quickly blossoming into a haven for writers, poets and artists. Prolific writer and painter Henry Miller made the location famous ‹ moving there in the 1940s to pursue a location that matched his eclectic mix of writing, poetry, art, and psychology.

Upon her move to Big Sur, Kleefeld flourished as a writer and artist, and published her first book of Poetry, "Climates of the Mind." The book emphasized her conviction that "The mind does not stand apart from nature but is a reflection of natural forces."

It is clear that the powerful natural beauty of Big Sur influenced her conviction that the natural world and the human world are not mutually exclusive. She has continued to live in Big Sur and has received notoriety for her impressive collection of writing and art, as well as her ability to easily convey her messages to friends and the public at large.

Kleefeld¹s sixth book, "Soul Seeds," uses short, solid phrases to discuss life¹s greatest challenges and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. Called "revelations," they are one to three sentences in length and are organized by theme.

The result is a book that does not offer lengthy analysis, but rather quick, memorable words of wisdom that can be carried with and remembered by the reader on a daily basis. The book also includes her original artwork, including several pen and ink drawings that correspond to the theme of each chapter.

"Soul Seeds" coincides with her recent art retrospective at Pepperdine University in Malibu, titled "Visions From Big Sur." Kleefeld continues to push the boundaries with her writing, and has worked to redefine the possibility of the human mind in the process.

To learn more, please visit: www.carolyn marykleefeld.com

 


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