Her words provoke and inspire. Her highly acclaimed paintings express in symbolic imagery the passions of the heart and a reverence for the wilderness. It’s this quest for creative experimentation and spiritual knowledge that has made Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld an award-winning poet, writer, visual artist, and now benefactor to the University Art Museum and College of the Arts at Cal State Long Beach.
Kleefeld, whose paintings have appeared in numerous museums and galleries around the world, has gifted 120 of her works to launch what she and the university expect to be a long and fruitful partnership. Her vast portfolio includes an extensive and diverse body of paintings and drawings, ranging in style from Expressionist to Abstract to Figurative.
Kleefeld’s award-winning art is in the permanent collections of – among others – The Downey Museum of Art, Pepperdine University’s Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, The Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur and The Dylan Thomas Theatre in Swansea, Wales.
“Carolyn’s impact on California art has been nothing short of remarkable and we are delighted that the University Art Museum will be part of her lasting legacy, as well as provide us with the opportunity to showcase her work and that of other significant artists,” said President Jane Close Conoley.
Kleefeld was born in Catford, England, but grew up in Southern California. She studied art and psychology at UCLA. In 1980, she moved to her current home in Big Sur, California, where she studies, writes and paints.
She is the author of 20 books, a number of which have been used by healing centers and universities. Kleefeld’s writings have been translated into over 15 languages. Her book, "Climates of the Mind," was translated into Braille and has been used in psychology courses at Cal State Long Beach. Kleefeld’s literary and personal archive, as well as a complete set of her published books will join her gift of artwork at the museum.
“A profound circle has magically manifested,” said Kleefeld of the new relationship with the university. “When my parents, S. Mark and Amelia Taper, came to this country from England with my brother, sister, and myself, we first stayed for some time at the Biltmore Hotel in Long Beach, and later my father began his extensive housing for veterans there. So, now for my life’s work to be part of the Long Beach community is a destiny fulfilled.”
Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, dean of the College of the Arts, is delighted at the addition of the Kleefeld Collection to the University Art Museum.
“The University Art Museum seeks to serve our students in ways that expand their understanding of the complex roles that art plays in culture,” Parker-Jeannette said. “It means so much to us that Carolyn’s legacy as an artist, a poet, and a historical figure will be celebrated here, and I am happily foreseeing that many great opportunities will emerge from this relationship.”
“As I express in my artist statement, ultimately art is an innocent interactive mirror of my innermost process, whisking me out of time into the Timeless,” said Kleefeld. “My life’s passion is to create art from this unconditioned well of being and to inspire such a journey in others. Thus, to have my art and writing in this educational setting is a dream realized, and my aspiration is for the students and visitors to the university to embark on their own journeys of inner discovery and creative expression, learning from my own experiential explorations.”