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Deborah Wasserman was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, grew up in the Middle East, and currently resides in Queens, New York, one of the most diverse counties in the US. She is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, Artists in the Marketplace at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and received two fellowships from the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She has exhibited in the United States, at the Queens Museum of the Arts, Bronx Museum of the Arts, White Columns, Pierogi 2000, Socrates Sculpture Park, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, and A.I.R. Gallery. Internationally, she has shown in Brazil, the Netherlands, Germany, and Israel. Wasserman has been the recipient of grants from the Experimental Television Center, Aljira Center for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Department of Cultural Affairs, The Puffin Foundation, Queens Council On The Arts, and the Citizens Committee for New York.  In 2020 she was a Finalist for the NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship in the category of Printmaking/Drawing/Book Arts. Most recently, Wasserman was commissioned by the New York City Department of Transportation to create a public art piece.


My ancestors were uprooted, expelled, and forced to wander. Throughout my life, I too have been a nomad and seeker. Painting landscapes is my way of deepening and extending my roots, reorganizing my travels, and seeking belonging. 


Born in Brazil, I grew up in the war-torn coasts of the Middle East, and now I reside in the USA. The Brazilian soil is lush and abundant while the Middle Eastern terrains are dry and sun-scorched. I first encountered redwood forests in North America, as well as snowflakes and birch trees. Through my paintings, I express myself as the sum of those shared landscapes and the paradoxes that emerge between them. As our ecosystems collapse, I agonize through my work for the loss of yet another home, our earth. 


Throughout my solitary journey, I sought a nurturing mother, but did not find her until I myself became a mother and made my home. In the studio, the Great Mother emerges from within me through luminous colors and shapes. I see her in nature, in mountains and soaring trees, in lush plants and leaves.


In my recent painting, “This Bitter Earth,” a larger-than-life woman is lying on the earth, her eyes closed. The terrain that envelops her body are scorched mountains, flooded valleys, and torn rags afloat. Fires and rings of smoke appear throughout. This woman represents Mother Earth and her ravaged, fallen kingdom.


When I paint vistas, with intricate textures of fantastical drips and spills, I let my body lead, sensual and intuitive. I start with layering, pouring, and mark-making to create the rich soil of the underpaint. I render details but also expose the rawness of the canvas. I shift from abstraction to realism, from ink to acrylics and oil, mixing techniques and styles. Equality reigns on my canvas. I work on the floor, wall, and table, echoing the wanderer’s frequent migrations. Movement is crucial to my process.


In these luminous ecosystems, another realm prevails – that of destruction, of anguish and despair. Grim scenes of sunken homes, fires, and uprooted trees morph into faces and hands that reach out to grasp and hold. Figures appear but remain indistinguishable from the land. Mountains, valleys, and oceans collapse into one chaotic and fractured terrain. I paint the prophecies of our times. I look at images from distant, disparate lands, letting them subtly inform my process and imagination as I build new terrains.

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a portrait of artist deborah wasserman by Rafael Henrnandez in her studio

Photo by Rafael Hernandez for THE POOL

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