Carol Weingarten

Painting as a heightening experience of being present

                                                                          interview by Adina Dabija

In Chinese Medicine, we speak a lot about the relation between health and the fulfillment of oneís destiny. Nourishing one's destiny, which means being true to oneself, is an essential dimension of  the ancient wisdom. How are painting and Chinese medicine nourishing your destiny as an artist?

Carol Weingarten: Thatís a beautiful question. I had a talk with a friend a few days ago about this and I was telling him that it is the same feeling when Iím painting and when Iím treating patients: being really, really present. A heightening experience of being present.


Isn't there a similar type of experience in Buddhist religion, where observation and awareness are important steps to enlightenment?  

Carol Weingarten: And abandoning your self. This feeling is certainly connected with something larger than myself. The ego self is dissolved. I always paint from life, from the moment. I am not an intellectual kind of painter.

So you paint from your heart or, as they say, from your guts.

Carol Weingarten: The painting takes over and leads me. With acupuncture treatments is the same.

Birthday Bouquet
oil/ canvas 20"x15"

What do you like to paint? 

Carol Weingarten: My great love from the very beginning is painting people. I also like to paint flowers. I think of them not as models, but as nature. I like to paint people more because it is harder to project my own influence upon the painting.



Self Portrait, 1988/ oil on canvas, 18" x 12"

I know that painting was your first love that you experienced very early in your life, and acupuncture came later. Is this first love suffering in any way by your sharing your time with this more recent discovery?

Carol Weingarten: I definitely donít have so much time to paint any more, but I donít think that my painting is suffering from that. Well, it isÖ, but in another way it is enriched by the other art form Ė I think the medicine is also an art form, actually the combination of all art forms: the ability of being present with all the senses. You have to really see, touch, hear and smell. That is exactly how my painting is: sensual and expressionist. Abstract art is another way of dealing with the reality. I think the conceptual approach to art (or life) limits you to the boundaries of what our finite, judgmental, intellects can imagine; opening of all of the senses to the experience, (or trying to), allows for the possibility of a richer, fuller experience.


Blue Knee, 1992/ oil on canvas, 11" x 12"


In your opinion, what is the artistís role in todayís society?


Samia, 1997 /oil on canvas 12" x 15"

Carol Weingarten: That changes from society to society... In America, the place of art has been so misunderstood! Art has always been the highest expression of achievement of any civilization.  It is always what remains long after the civilization has disappeared.  Our government in the last ten years has decided that the government can't afford to subsidze the arts.  But I think t can't afford not to.
rt is the point where you get to, as society: it is a place of abundance, a celebration of life...  I am an artist just the way I am a person and my particular belief is that Iím involved in the social life moment by moment, by my painting and my medicine and by the choices I make and by the reactions I have. By our very existence we each shape the way the world is. We each have choice to shape our own existence so we each have the possibility of shaping the world.. I truly believe that the movement of the butterfly wings in Brazil changes the weather in New York city.

Diva Waiting, 1992 /oil on canvas 32" x 20"


On the other hand I think that the rhythms of the conflict and struggle are basic rhythms of the universe and they have always been there and will repeat and thatís the way it is. After the conflict is over, another cycle will start. So in a broader sense we also have no impact on the cycles of flow and change. I went out against the war of Vietnam as a child and I marched against the war in Iraq as an adult, and I get angry and I vote and I get involved and Iím glad we live in a democracy where you can express your opinions, but I don't think I need to express this directly through my paintings.



Mom's Lost Roses,
watercolor 12"x9"



Fujifilm, 1985
watercolor, 10.5"x12.5"
Snow Jam, 1994
watercolor 7"x5"
Samer Leaving, 1995
oil/canvas 18"x12"

Time Square Island,
watercolor 9"x12"
Naomi, 2002
oil/canvas 20"x10"



interview with Carol Weingarten by Adina Dabija, December 2005, New York



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