Kaethe Kauffman received her MFA in Studio Fine Arts from the University of California, Irvine, having previously studied at universities in England (University of London,) Yugoslavia (University of Belgrade,) Spain, (Instituto de Bellas Artes) including one year of graduate study at the Instituto Allende (Universidad de Guanajuato) in Mexico.


Her paintings, drawings and murals are in many private and corporate collections and have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Berkeley, San Francisco, Australia, and Europe, with a one-person exhibit at the CZECH MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS in Prague, Czech Republic. She has been included in group exhibitions at Hofstra University, Long Island, NY, Lichtundfire Gallery, Walter Wickiser Gallery, Kathleen Cullen Gallery, Allen Gallery, Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts and the Fifth Avenue Gallery, all in New York City; The Loft Gallery, Los Angeles; University Art Gallery, Indiana State University, Terre Haute; Texas A&M University; and University of Nebraska, Omaha. Additional one-person exhibitions were held at Rensselaer Newman Foundation, Troy, NY; Frostburg University, MD; University of Salisbury, MD; Allen Gallery, Memphis, TN; Joyce Goldstein Gallery, Chatham, NY; Banco Gallery, Bethlehem, PA; Berry College, Mount Berry, GA; Hardin Center for Cultural Arts, Gadsden, AL; and the Sierra Arts Foundation Gallery, Reno, NV.


Kaethe Kauffman’s art focuses on the human body, in its physical reality and as a vehicle for meditative practice. Her Cibachromes, inkjet and mixed media works combine disparate images into new, mysterious forms that suggest a letting go of the self.


Kauffman was born in Cheverly, Maryland in 1948 and grew up in Seattle. As a child she was an excellent dancer and was strongly drawn to the visual arts, although she did not receive encouragement for her artistic interests. At age ten, she was taught meditation in a single lesson by a distant visiting cousin who was a doctor. Kauffman cites learning to meditate as “the main formative childhood experience” that was to influence her art. She writes, “I immediately loved it and practiced it every day; it became a refuge.”


At the University of Washington, where she majored in Far Eastern studies, Kauffman combined her meditation practice with her involvement with dance and yoga. She was hesitant to study art, and instead worked as a life model, absorbing the professors’ lessons, and painting and drawing the figure on her own. Kauffman went on to earn her BA in studio art at the University of Las Vegas, where she studied the social classes of showgirls, and worked with them to create artwork based on their experiences. Kauffman continued her conceptual feminist work in Los Angeles, where she lived until 1981. She received a MFA from University of California, Irvine and a PhD in Art History from Union Institute in Cincinnati. She taught extensively on the college level before moving to Honolulu in 1994, where she has been inspired by the dance and tattoo art of Hawaii.


Kauffman’s work has developed in a number of phases, all concentrating on the connection between the body and the mind. While living in Los Angeles in the 1970s, she made life-sized drawings based on her experience as a runner, depicting alpha states of consciousness. She also created images of female figures in yoga and meditation postures. Her close-up muscle studies showed impressions of long held yoga movements on each joint of the body. The artist continues to develop these bodies of work, along with a landscape series.


In 1980, a drowning accident in which her boyfriend died and which nearly took Kauffman’s own life, was the impetus for Into the Light, a series which confronts mortality and transcendence. In its present form, the series has silhouettes of meditating figures progressively filled with light. In the mid-1990s, Kauffman began the series Muscle Movement Meditation, which uses paint-soaked string affixed to parts of the body. When the muscles move, the off-printed paint records the motion on the body. This approach continues to manifest itself in a wide range of series in which multiple images combine into complex works that evoke the merging of individual experience with cosmic consciousness.


Virtual exhibition