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In Our Own Words: Karen Schwartz, artist and psychotherapist

by Gail O'Neill - August 13, 2020

Karen Schwartz is an Atlanta- and New York City-based artist who mostly paints and draws. She’s also a clinical psychologist and finds that her practice informs her art in fascinating ways and that her studio practice offers curious insights into her work as a psychotherapist.

Let’s Face It

Solo Exhibition at Hathaway Contemporary Gallery in Atlanta, GA

January 25, 2020

Interview with Collective Knowledge

"Coming into Being as Artist and Psychotherapist: Keeping Self from Falling Together Too Soon."

Art, Creativity, and Psychoanalysis Perspectives from Analyst-Artists, London, Rutledge, George Hagman (ed.) 2017


A collection of personal reflections  by therapists who are also professional artists.

Drawing on artistic material from painting, poetry, choreography, music and literature, the book casts light on what the creative processes in art can add to the relational psychoanalytic endeavor and vice versa.

Making unformulated experience real through painting: painting and psychoanalytic psychotherapy practice as two ways of making sense

by Karen M. Schwartz


I contend that painting, like psychoanalytic psychotherapy, is an inter-subjective process able to connect hearts and minds to painters and viewers alike, because the creative process of making a painting brings painters into more complex and more animated relationship with themselves.

This Week's Must-See Art Events: How's About Some Hot Stuff Baby This Evening?

by Michael Anthony Farley - July 3, 2017

The Roger Ailes Memorial Show: Fair and Balanced

When Roger Ailes died earlier this year, ousted from his own network FOX News by scandal, he left behind a legacy that changed the world.

Review: Schwartz and Mitchell dynamically elicit human experience

Dinah McClintock - June 22, 2017

Kirstin Mitchell's tranquil gradient series and alluring minimalist statements, in a single room punctuated by quirky objects, seem notably different from the complex gestural abstractions by Karen Schwartz that fill the rest of Hathaway Gallery's expansive spaces. But Schwartz's Making Sense and Mitchell's Midnight at the Oasis, both on view through July 11, present art that engages physical process, everyday materials and the traditional medium of painting to elicit human  experience.

Reckless in an Ever-Changing World

Curated by John Yau
Featuring works by Phil Allen, Karen Schwartz, and Clintel Steed
May 20 – June 26, 2016
Opening Reception: Friday, May 20th from 6 – 9 PM

Life on Mars Gallery is pleased to present Reckless in an Ever-Changing World, curated by John Yau with works by Phil Allen, Karen Schwartz, and Clintel Steed.

In 1976, the American expatriate artist, R. B. Kitaj, organized an exhibition for the Arts Council of Great Britain that he named Human Clay. I was reminded of Kitaj’s title when I began thinking about how to put together this exhibition. I wanted to make a distinction between painters who made images and were interested in resemblance, and those who worked with paint as if it were some kind of clay, a material to shape and interact with, while responding to their subject matter. This is not exactly what Kitaj had in mind when he coined the term, but I think the viewer will see what I am getting at.

The focus of this exhibition is on three artists who have concocted figures and faces out of paint. This is how Clintel Steed, one of the artists in the exhibition, characterized the relationship between painter and subject matter: “Nothing comes close to human contact, real human presence. Nothing ever will.”

Karen Schwartz at Life On Mars

June 2, 2015 by Zachary Keeting




Life on Mars Gallery:
Karen Schwartz’s “Down the Rabbit Hole”

May 2015 by Danielle Burnham, Bushwick Buzz

In their current exhibition — and in keeping with the gallery’s mission — Life on Mars Gallery continues to remind us that painting is still relevant in the age of digital media. Currently on display through May 31 is Karen Schwartz’s first solo exhibition, titled Down the Rabbit Hole.


The title of the exhibit is a reference to the artist’s mother’s sudden illness and passing last year. Schwartz describes the experience as akin to “…falling down a rabbit hole into an unbelievable and wholly different relation to life and death”. It is a sensation effectively captured throughout this body of work.

Speaking the Language of Paint: Karen Schwartz at Life on Mars

May 23, 2015 by Thomas Micchelli,


The paintings in Karen Schwartz’s show at Life on Mars are big, bold semi-abstractions that skate along the edge of chaos. That she is also a practicing psychotherapist is a factor that should or should not have a bearing on her work, depending on your bias toward biography. Either way, these are artworks that make the most out of what they’re made of: paint.

From Atlanta to Bushwick: A Pink Lady Smiles

May 10, 2015 by Kristi York Wooten, Huffington Post


Case in point: Near the railroad tracks on Atlanta's Westside, artist Karen Schwartz paints in her studio. Through the open window, the sound of birds wafts into the space along with shafts of sunlight. When I meet Schwartz for an interview in April, she is preparing for a one-woman show in Brooklyn, New York, and her nearly-finished work surrounds us. Expressionist yet contemporary, the figurative paintings are dark and deliberate, with a sense of humor and a fluidity marked by bats, bunnies and other animal references that flutter, bounce and stomp through her canvases. Schwartz says it required a lot of deep digging to do the "physical and visceral" work of self-discovery that these emotive paintings transmit.



Video: Down the Rabbit Hole by Karen Schwartz

May 6, 2015 by James Kalm


James Kalm accepts an invitation to interview painter Karen Schwartz during her New York debut exhibition "Down the Rabbit Hole" at Bushwick's Life on Mars Gallery.


Left: Karen Schwartz, Down the Rabbit Hole (2014)

Karen Schwartz & Margrit Lewczuk

May 2, 2015 by Painers’ Table, Weekly Update


Etty Yaniv reviews Karen Schwartz: Down the Rabbit Hole and works on paper by Margrit Lewczuk at Life on Mars Gallery, Bushwick, Brooklyn, on view through May 31, 2015. Read more at


Left: Karen Schwartz, Taking What You Can't Give Back (2015)

Gallery Chronicle

May 2015 by James Panero

Schwartz does not back down from a fight. She wrestles with oils and acrylics. Abstract forms turn into human figures only to become effaced. Layers of paint react against resisting agents. Colors drip and run. Scraped-up pigment ends up stuck to surfaces. Shadow of His Former Self (2014) may be the most successful. Here even the painting surface is uneven, with a canvas stuck to a deeper panel of wood. On the left, a ghost-like form fades in the background. On the right, a fleshy nose enters the frame. The psychological weight of Schwartz’s figures can be heavy, at times overbearing, so I appreciate her lighter colors and shots of humor. Another example: Pink Lady (2014), where a scrawl of red lipstick finishes off a figure in a flourish of punk acidity.


Left: Karen Schwartz, Pink Lady (2014)

TGIF: Arts in Bushwick Gets Personal

May 1, 2015 by Stephanie Chan, Bushwick Daily


Artist Karen Schwartz depicted gripping inner lives in her solo exhibit Life on Mars. A professional therapist, Schwartz showcases an evocative array of emotions on the canvas, delving deeply into her own life in an extremely personal way.



Embrace of Simultaneous Meanings: Karen Schwartz at Life on Mars

April 29, 2015 By Etty Yaniv


Karen Schwartz‘ paintings in her solo exhibition at Life on Mars conjure a sense of grief with the gusto of life. Equipped with her intense inward gaze as a professional therapist, Schwartz does not shy away from personal references to her mother’s unexpected illness and passing last year. Her canvas surfaces resemble a battleground of mark-making; layer upon layer of intense colors, lines, scrapes and voids, suggesting images of abstracted human figures, animals and sometimes cultural icons.


Left: Karen Schwartz in front of Phoenix of Sheepshead Bay (2014).

Backstory: Karen Schwartz On “Shadow of His Former Self”

November 23, 2013 by Tilted Arc


This painting came into being late in the process of creating it. It began as a human figure, as so many of mine do. I worked with a nude male model on an angular hand-on-hip-with-pointed-elbow pose for a number of painting sessions. After many instances of painting it in and out, that elbow became a nose and cast the shadowed profile that assumes the knowing presence, framing the one eye that meets the viewer, inviting complicity, saying, “I know” or “See what I mean?”

My husband declared it the most hideous painting he had seen me do when he first laid eyes on it. Then he stared at it and cried. I knew it would upset him. The painting disturbed me too, and so, I knew it was undeniable and had to be welcomed into being.

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