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Born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. 1950

Deborah lives and works in Ojai, California. 

Read Deborah's published poems on her poetry page:

See the Cave & Rock Art Talk, April 2021, with Deborah Kerner & Richard Waxberg on Youtube, 
part of the Ojai Institute's "Travel with Artists" series



Deborah considers herself an autodidact, having designed and organized her own educational trajectory which includes first-hand studies of world art forms, past and present.  

1980-1992: Shamanic Studies, Oregon, Nevada, New Hampshire and upstate New York.

Along with her husband, studies Native American shamanistic culture for 12 years. Together they seek out several elders including Cherokee elder Rolling Thunder and Lakota elder Wallace Black Elk, with whom they enter into spiritual studies and ceremonies. This work introduces a new and profound understanding into the sacred relationship with nature that makes a dramatic impact on the way she perceives the world, eventually expressing itself in her artistic practice.

1983: The New York School of Applied Design, New York City. Etching studies. 

1973-1976: Studies photography with Life Magazine photojournalist, W. Eugene Smith, and innovative theater and dance photographer, Max Waldman, in their downtown New York City studios.

Learns how to print black and white archival museum-quality photographic prints. Also assists with Waldman's photo shoots with, among others, dancer Merce Cunningham, French mime Marcel Marceau, ballet dancers from the New York City Ballet, and Jerzy Grotowski's avant-garde Polish Theater.

1969-1974: Works as an assistant with 2 highly respected and innovative New York City fashion designers, Halston and Giorgio Sant’Angelo.

Learns to design accessories and work directly with industry manufacturers, and to execute the many skills involved in maintaining these 2 cutting-edge fashion houses in the epicenter of the New York City fashion world. Organizes fashion shows and the designers' schedules.

1968-69: Brooklyn Museum Art School & The New School, NYC. 2 years studying painting and life drawing. Also studies & practices Modern Dance at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio in NYC.

1965-68: The Masters School, Dobbs Ferry, New York. Graduates with honors in art. For high school years, attends a boarding school along the Hudson River which encourages the opportunity to focus on painting, poetry and modern dance. Experiments with different styles of expression in painting and sculpture. Regular field trips by bus into New York City include frequent visits to the MOMA and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, establishing a love affair with the entire history of art that continues as a lifetime source of inspiration.  Writes poetry and publishes in the school poetry society’s yearly magazine. Practices modern dance, and for a short time, considers entering the field. 


2020-2021: Cave Painting, Painted Cave, The Gallery at Hotel Indigo Santa Barbara (California)

in partnership with the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation & the Ojai Institute. Group Show.

Oil Paintings & Works on Paper.

2019 May-June: Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation / Ojai Institute, Ojai, California.

Invitational Group Show, Creative Community Thomas Fire Recovery Exhibition. Oil Painting.


2018 March: Porch Gallery, Ojai, California.

Invitational Group Show for the Thomas Fire Artist Recovery. Collage on paper.


1996: Susan Berke Fine Art Gallery, New York City. 

One Person Show. Bodies Out of Time. Hand-painted and hand-burnished linoprint series.


1995-2000: Susan Berke Fine Art Gallery, New York City. Group Shows. Oil Paintings on Canvas, linoprints & drawings.


1993-1994: Rishi Valley School, Andhra Pradesh, India. One Person Shows. Linoprints, drawings & water colors.


1986-1988: Alternative Art Space, Queens, New York. Group shows. Oil Paintings of suspended natural objects.

Open Studio Space

Continues showing her work in her studio to the art community where she lives. 

2005-Present: Ojai, California. Oil paintings on canvas, collages & works on paper.

2003-2004: Silver City, New Mexico. Oil paintings & drawings.  

1979-1991: New York City. Oil paintings & drawings.

Related Life Experience

Ongoing: Expands her artistic practice with new thematic series of paintings, works on paper, and collage. Her artistic practice also includes the profound inspiration she receives from the unique forms found in nature on frequent walks and hikes. In between studio time, continues writing poetry exploring the mystery of the written word.

2005-Present: Krishnamurti Foundation of America, Ojai, California. Along with her husband, directs and co-facilitates 2 in-depth philosophical, dialogically-based immersive retreats yearly, called Explorations into Freedom. The program creates an opportunity for people to explore the limitations of our conditioned minds, as well as authority and belief, and their impact on human life.  

2004: Moves west to Ojai, California to experience the unique light, the mountains of the area and the nearby seacoast.

2003-2004: Lives and works in Silver City, New Mexico for one year studying Native American Art including the Mimbres whose culture was located in a valley near Silver City.

1996-1999: Moves to rural western upstate New Jersey with her husband, to live on a 300 acre property allowing a deep immersion into painting and creating works on paper inspired by the beauties and mystery of the natural world.   

1994: Returns to the US. Moves to Red Bank, New Jersey, and begins a major series of linoprints. Continues painting and drawing.

1993-1994: The Rishi Valley School, a Krishnamurti school, Andhra Pradesh, southern India.

After a period of deep inner reflection while studying the teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti in Ojai, California, Deborah and her husband receive an invitation to live and teach at the school for one year. She teaches art and ceramic sculpture to high school students. Continues her art practice with a series of linoprints and exhibits this work at the school. 

1992: Leaves New York City with her husband, driving across country and spending a year in Ojai, California, where they both study in-depth the work of philosopher J.Krishnamurti and enter into frequent philosophical and dialogical discourses.

1980-2013: To help support herself as an artist, begins designing books for a distinguished list of clients at New York publishing houses. Designing books gives the opportunity to exercise and extend her range of esthetic expression into this graphic medium.

1979: Marries artist Richard Waxberg in October.

1978: Along with her future husband, artist Richard Waxberg, moves into an apartment in New York City that gives ample studio space for painting, ceramic sculpture and drawing.

1969: Moves to New York City. Visits New York art galleries and museums frequently, providing a comprehensive overview of both contemporary and historical art.

1952-1968: Grows up on Long Island, New York. Her grandfather, Howard Swiggett, a popular writer of fiction and history in the 1950s, tells fanciful stories captivating her attention and lighting a flame that nurtures her passion for personal expression. At the age of 6, two framed prints of paintings by Vermeer, Woman with a Pearl Necklace and Lady Standing at a Virginal hanging in her grandfather’s house, ignite her feeling for art and painting.


Extensive Travels & Studies Worldwide

1969-Present: As part of her artistic practice, travels to many major art centers and cities in the world to directly study art, both contemporary and historical, as well as indigenous art forms, architecture, textiles and other related artistic expressions.


Partial List of Direct Study Travels

2012 & 2013: Britain. Ancient monolithic sites and early churches. • 2008: Paris, France. Visits Picasso and the Masters, a major show at the Grand Palais, that included important artists of the past whom Picasso based many of his paintings on. Visits Chartres Cathedral, the stained glass windows along with other major museums around Paris.  • 1994: Japan. The screens of the Edo period, clayworks, textiles, lacquerware, woodcuts & temple architecture.  • 1993-1994: India and Thailand. Varied art forms unique to these countries: temples, sculptures, paintings, indigenous art forms and textiles, as well as the natural beauty of the people and the landscapes.  • 1984-1989: American Southwest. Many styles of Native American Rock Art found deep in the canyons of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah.  • 1980: Guatemala and the Yucatan, Mexico. The art, sculpture and architecture of the Mayan and Olmec cultures.  • 1975-1976: India and Nepal. Miniature painting, textiles, temple art, sculpture and architecture.  • 1969-2016: Europe. Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, England, Holland, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Greece, Czech Republic, Turkey. Greek & Roman; Romanesque & Gothic art; Italian fresco painting; Renaissance; major artists of the 17th through the 20th century; Turkey, Seljuk, Hittite, Persian, Ottoman & Byzantine art forms; art centers & museums, Contemporary Art.

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