Esther Kirshenbaum | 50 Questions interview

Artists from various fields choose 3-5 questions to answer from a list of 50.



1. What event or factor in your life has been the most pivotal in your decision to become an artist?

I’m not sure it was one thing, but I was an unhappy biology teacher.  At night I would come home and do nature and sci-fi drawings.  I put up a pegboard A-frame at an art fair, and sold all of my drawings. I realized I was better  artist than a teacher.

4.Describe your ideal workspace

The miracle studio: 1, 500 sq. foot space in brick bldg with its own heating and cooling system, a portable hood that can move over work tables with high cfm vent fan ducted to the outside, 14 Ft. ceilings, a double sink with hot and cold water, a bathroom with shower, a drain in the sealed concrete floor, So. facing wall of windows (with curtains for optional sun), N. facing wall of windows, windows can be opened, 2 remaining walls of drywall with surface board on which work can be easily tacked for viewing, track lights on those two walls, task lights over table surfaces, a regular double door and a garage door for seasonal opening to an outdoor area, and a small sitting area for meditating, stretching.  I guess that should do it

13. Do you have a relationship with the distant future – in other words, are you making artwork that bears a message or impact for coming generations?

Maybe someone in a future generation will see my Anonymous series and know I was sending a warning to all Homo sapiens about how we treat one another and the planet. But I wouldn’t say I created it for future generations, it could be taken as a warning for now.

23. How would you describe your ideal relationship with other artist colleagues?

I work alone a lot, so I really get a lot of energy from a collaboration.  We make something neither of us could have done alone. The sum is great than the parts kind of thing.

28. When does Joy tend to visit you?

During meditative moments of pure love and creativity. Watching an artist perform with abandon. Seeing amazing art. Dancing. Spring. Nights of cosmic gazing. A mushroom trip. Watching animals.



After living in New York City for several years, maintaining a studio presence there, I am now back in my Michigan studio. I continue to work in mixed media combining encaustics and drawings carved into wood. My current series, Anonymous, was sparked by the work of sociobiologist E.O. Wilson. Educated in biology, I have always been perplexed by the destructive nature of Homo sapiens; how the species as a whole cannot nurture and protect its natural environment. That combined with living in NYC left me pre-occupied with imagining a life form more suitable for this planet. Each scene in the series is a powerful place of essence and simplicity inhabited by weightless figures of peace and tranquility. Without ego, gender, age, religion, anger, fear, possessions, the forms in each work are harmonious with one another and the earth. I think of them as individual spirits yet connected by energy or perhaps like trees, linked by gossamer fine mycorrhizae. They are capable of carrying truths that are beyond the intellect.
More about Esther Kirshenbaum at:

Are they survivors of an environmental apocalypse? Has Homo sapiens evolved into a virtual species?

The critical question we must all address is this: Are human beings capable of inhabiting Earth without destroying the natural environment and if so, how?