Carol Adelman

Carol Adelman  (

Carol Adelman is a painter working in Seattle.  Her paintings are developed with a sensual, aggressive application of the paint that borders on abstraction and engages with the concept of a fragmented self. She melds objects and symbols of gender, with personal experience, memory and imagination, to represent subjectivity.

She was a resident at Vermont Studio Center, and holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and an MFA from the University of Washington. She has served as an educator on the faculties of  Dickinson College, Louisiana State University, and the University of Washington.


Photo by: James Arzente

Photo by: James Arzente


What drives your artistic practice?

To bring visual form to the dilemma of negotiating sensate bodily experience with my internal life and the culture around me drives the work.   Mediating these things constructs my identity, which in my case is female.  This raises particular questions.  

What gets you into the studio?

What is going on in my head.  I have to get my hands in the paint to see what it looks like and negotiate from there.  

How did you choose your medium?  

I love paint–the way I can push it around, build it up, sand it off, and make it gritty, smooth, transparent, opaque.  I love finding images in it that emerge from its very nature. I love to push against its liquid viscosity that never stops offering impossible problems and mysteries that can never be completely revealed.  

The moment I picked up oil paint for the first time, the frustration of getting it to behave had me hooked. It’s like ballroom dancing or horseback riding–all hand signals, movement and balance.  How do you respond to what it wants?  How do you get it to move in response to you?

Working in a medium so laden with history brought up content right away.  The contrast between my ideas and the past led me to consider questions about representation of women and how that places me as an artist.  

Who are your creative heroes and why?

Philip Guston, because he was incredibly eloquent in his characterization of painting as a war between the image and the object.  After leaving the image behind with the abstract expressionists he saw painting as incredibly lonely and made the unfashionable choice to find his way back to it.

Edith Wharton’s novels seem to pin point the dilemma, danger and difficulties women had navigating the culture of her day. In “House of Mirth” her character Lilly Bart seemed to die from it.  

If you could own a work by any living artist, what would it be (or whose)?

I think I would like to own work by Jenny Saville or Jerome Witkin.  

Describe a single habit/behavior/action/work/ethic that you strongly believe contributes to your success.

My work originates in sensation and materials first.  The rest is questioning it and defining what is generated.   I approach it as the release or trapping of an image that is already there.   


Solo Exhibitions:


  • 2013 Formspace Atelier (Seattle, WA)
  • 2012 ArtEAST Art Center, (Issaquah, WA)
  • 2010 Gage Academy of Art, “Little Women” (Seattle, WA)
  • 2005 Kresge Art Center, Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
  • 2004 Washington Works on Paper, “Threshold: Imprint to Image” (Washington, DC)



Group Exhibitions:

  • 2013 Columbia City Gallery, “little x little: Miniature Print Exhibition” (Seattle, WA)
  • 2013 Prographica, “Faces” (Seattle, WA)
  • 2012 Davidson Galleries, “Exceptional: 8 PNW Curators + 8 PNW Artists” (Seattle, WA)
  • 2012 Jacob Lawrence Gallery, “Seattle Print Arts: Currents” University of Washington, (Seattle, WA)
  • 2012 Jacob Lawrence Gallery, (Curtors: Claire Cowie, Robert Yoder), University of Washington, (Seattle, WA)

Permanent Collections:

  • Private Collection