top of page

Elisabeth Abeson

Elisabeth's Profile Photo

Elisabeth received a BFA from Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art & Planning. During this time, she focused on oil painting, photography, mixed media and short-story writing. Her work was recognized through three Cornell University arts grants. Additionally, the English department awarded her the university-wide short story writing competition – an honor previously held by Kurt Vonnegut.

She has recently returned to doing her art full-time after spearheading global initiatives at leading Multinational Corporations (MNC), the United Nations (UN), International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGO), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and indigenous rights-based organizations in India. She specialized in Globalization Strategy in the private sector (IBM) & then transitioned into Corporate Accountability through a Rotary World Peace Fellowship.

Elisabeth was based in Japan where she earned an MPA with a focus on multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development, humanitarian aid, and disaster relief. An area of expertise was establishing lines of dialog between corporations and those negatively impacted by them in an attempt to negotiate a way forward for all parties to peacefully co-exist. Peaceful co-existence is a theme in her work on metaphorical, conceptual, textural & visual levels.


Working as a multi-stakeholder partnership strategist for sustainable development has impacted Elisabeth’s art significantly. She became well-versed in honoring different vantage points simultaneously – creating an affinity for Cubism and its gift of looking at situations from multiple ‘stakeholder’ perspectives. Each vantage point was equally valid. Her work also deepened her artistic identity as being a citizen of the world, rather than of one particular country. Further, it planted the seed for the emerging theme of ‘inter-being’ & interconnectedness in her art.


Heavily influenced by Gandhian philosophy, including his notion of Trusteeship, Elisabeth was a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Strategist for The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) India. Since then, she has lived & worked throughout India working in solidarity with Adivasi (indigenous people) and other marginalized groups to preserve their rich cultural & environmental heritage in the onslaught of corporate globalization.


At UNDP India & the Human Rights Law Network, (HRLN), India, she developed a profound appreciation for Ayurveda (India’s 5,000-year-old plant-based medical tradition), working in solidarity with displaced agrarian and tribal communities that harvested medicinal herbs. Ayurveda became the key to her remission from Rheumatoid Arthritis & the philosophy which guides her life & art. Like Ayurveda, Elisabeth aspires for her artwork contribute to healing the body, mind & spirit. The  artisans, farmers and wise elders Elisabeth spent time with in rural India viewed the world holistically and were profoundly aligned with nature. This contributed to the ongoing theme of animals, nature and people living in respectful harmony with one another.


Her most recent position at the UN was serving as, ‘Coordinator, Children’s Rights & Business Principles’, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF. There, she Led a Steering Committee, (representing UNICEF, the UN Global Compact (UNGC) & Save the Children). She is honored to have managed this project that created the first global standards for businesses to respect child rights in the workplace, marketplace and community. It has been deployed worldwide & is considered a best-practice.


In 2012, her interest in health significantly increased when she was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). After extensive research, she chose Ayurveda as her primary modality for healing. Yearly Panchakarma (detoxification treatment) in India has gifted her with remission, so she is dedicated to making classical Ayurveda more readily available to the global public through art.


From 2018-2019, she studied Ayurveda under the world-renown Ayurvedic Physician, Dr. Vasant Lad at The Ayurvedic Institute, USA. Her studies culminated in art exhibition entitled, "Chikitsa Moderne". “Chikitsa Moderne” is an art & writing initiative which explores ways in which the ancient spiritual science of Ayurveda can relieve contemporary suffering. Chikitsa’ literally means ‘treatment plan’ in Sanskrit, and the term ‘Moderne’ pays reference to the contemporary context in which we dwell. The contrast honors the importance of ‘balance’ within Ayurveda and invites us to reflect on how this ancient medical science can serve as a modern-day ‘prescription’ for healing our collective mind, body & consciousness.


Pieces are divided into three thematic areas demonstrating how Ayurveda can heal the individual body, the societal body and the entire eco-system, including Mother Earth.  Her work aims to bring an ancient localized medical tradition to the global public by democratizing it through abstract art. The objective is to help make Ayurveda contemporarily-relevant & culturally-accessible to the global community...through multi- sensory pieces that ‘speak’ to people across national, socio-economic, political, religious, sectoral & linguistic divides.


Healing and art coalesced once again when she worked with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) support groups at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) on an Expressive Arts Therapy project entitled, “RA Through a Personal Lens”. The goal was for participants to create a triptych (photo with accompanying phrase and title) capturing what it was like to live with an ‘invisible’ disease. Not only did the artistic process help participants process pain and grief regarding their diagnosis, sharing the project with family significantly increased their understanding of what it looked like to live with an invisible disease. Elisabeth’s goal was to remind others that we can heal from a place of empowerment rather than victimhood through art. Some of the pieces were used in medical trainings at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) to highlight the importance of ‘patient perspective’. She considers this group project a contribution to the Narrative Medicine movement.


Currently, Elisabeth is working on Phase II of  “Chikitsa Moderne”, exhibited at The Ayurvedic Institute & intends to bring it to India. An overview of the initiative can be found in the 'Art/Ayurvedic Healing Series' section of this web site. Phase II will expand upon the work produced to include mixed media paintings, photographs, written work, shadow boxes, multi-sensory installations and other eco-systems. 


She has come full-circle in life and returned to the town she grew up in (until the age of 10) - Westport, CT,USA. In fact, she is living just down the street from where she went to nursery school. Elisabeth regards the restoration of her house from 1727 in the Kings Highway North Historic District as one of her art projects that preserves cultural heritage. A current priority is to emerge from COVID hibernation, re-establish her roots in Westport, and become an active, participating member of the local artist community.





Elisabeth is heavily influenced by a host of traditions spanning the globe. The artists, architects, photographers, installation artists, dancer/choreographers, music, expressive arts therapists & movements that have influenced her the most are cave paintings from North Africa, Egyptian art, Etruscan Art, Berber Art, the concept of public art, indigenous architecture, indigenous art, several forms of Indian art, Cubism (given its multi-faceted perspective), Dadaism, Surrealism, Joseph Cornell, Kurt Schwitters and his ‘Merz’, Antoni Tapies, Joan Miro, Paul Klee, Marcel Duchamp, Christo, Edward Hopper, Eero Saarinen, Picasso (particularly his Cubist work, Sculpture and Blue Period), Gustav Klimt, Hilma Af Klint, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (Common Measures), Alvin Ailey, Balanchine, Ravi Verma, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Giotto, Barbara Kruger, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Paul Strand, Henri-Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Japanese garden landscaping, the calligraphy of Thích Nhất Hạnh, Paul Sempé, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Jazz, Mantra Chanting, Satnam Kaur, Indian Ragas, Music from around the globe, Steve Halpern, Vasant Lad’s drumming & singing at pujas, Cathy Malchiodi, street art, the art of children, and ‘naïve art’ from remarkable individuals whose names are not commonly known.





Elisabeth’s art has been published & presented in multiple arenas. Publications include, “The Intima”, Columbia’s Journal of Narrative Medicine (“Integrative Medicine” – photo installation), “Voices” – Duke University Medical School Journal (“Restoration to Flight” – mixed media collage/gouache & corresponding short story) and “Spirituality & Health” magazine (“Restoration to Flight” – mixed media collage/gouache & corresponding short story). Exhibits include several painting and photography exhibits at Cornell University as well as The Ayurvedic Institute. Additionally, she presented some of her Expressive Arts Therapy work at The American College of Rheumatology’s international annual conference, “Convergence 2020”. The Keynote Speaker in the “Patient Perspectives” portion of the Plenary, her abstract and presentation was entitled, "An Integrative Approach to Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Healing the Body, Mind & Spirit". It featured discussion of how expressive art therapy has helped her achieve remission. Additional art credits include the use of several pieces from her expressive art therapy portfolio “RA: Through a Personal Lens” in the medical training curriculum at The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), in New York, NY, USA. Written international publication & presentation listing is available upon request.

bottom of page