by Lou Mancinelli

Before coming to America on a Fulbright scholarship in 1955, she was raised seven miles outside of Rome on the ancient Appian Way, one of the city’s oldest roads, on a villa built by a nephew of Pope Urban VIII. Her parents farmed the land, which was full of livestock and sustained the family’s needs. Her family made their own wine. They sold the oil made from their olive grove to local merchants. She claims to be clairvoyant, having her first mystical experience at age 11, and is trained in and trains others in hypnosis.

Fiammetta Hsieh Rubin Whitaker, 75, of Chestnut Hill, who married into the Whitaker family which had a textile mill on Whitaker Avenue, is a native of Rome, Italy, and an acclaimed artist who attended art schools in the U.S. and Italy. She won a Fulbright Exchange Scholarship, a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship and a Doris Duke Foundation Fellowship. (Photo by Lou Mancinelli)

Chestnut Hill resident, artist, writer, herbalist and healer Fiammetta Hsieh Rubin Whitaker, 75, has led a life of philosophy, the study of consciousness, writing and teaching. She has created and exhibited art from Rome to Iowa and many cities in between.

Rubin has experienced much of the world and in recent times reinvented her artwork, now available at Rubin Art Studios in Chestnut Hill. She is also busy working on her autobiography and publishing her book, “The Diagnosis of Self and Others.” In addition to art, her career is studded with explorations into the mind such as psychokinesis, a discipline that studies the mind’s influence on affecting physical reality.

After discovering her difficulty with seeing three-dimensional objects in motion, Rubin, who came to America in 1955 at age 19 on a Fulbright Exchange Scholarship to study architecture at the University of Arkansas, shifted her educational focus to philosophy. In 1959, she studied philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, via a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship, before changing her major to painting. She was and remains a woman of aesthetics and existentialism whose heroes are Kafka, Dostoevsky and Sartre.

At present, Rubin draws with ball point pens on photographs she has taken and printed with premium printers and paper, which themselves look like fine paintings. The result is a new medium, unique to the 21st century. In her home, her work sprawls across the walls hither and thither in all the colors. She began her explorations into art at age three, and earned her degree in art from the University of Rome in 1953. She also holds a master’s degree in painting from Berkeley.

In 1986, Rubin became a certified doctor of naturopathy, (N.D.) a healing approach based on natural methodologies in healing, which she later taught in the Health Perspective Program of Rosemont College.

Before training in naturopathy, Rubin taught art and the history of it at the University of Wichita, Kansas, where she developed her own technique of etching copper, printing the image first, which she later enameled. She still owns a furnace and a six-ton printing press and has exhibited her engravings and enamels at the Philadelphia Open Studios, in the Midwest, New York City and Europe.

An example of Rubin’s abstract work.

This past May she displayed her art and presented a paper at the conference “Toward a Science of Consciousness,” in the Aula Magna at the University of Stockholm, Sweden, where a documentary about art and healing was also made about her.

Rubin is entranced with the human ability to heal through self-hypnosis and meditation, working with images, sounds and specific data through which healing can be obtained. She first experienced such healing after an episode of food poisoning, through a vision of the Transfigured Christ painted by Mathias Gruenewald that now resides in the city of Colmar in Alsace. At that time, Rubin entered into a trance state in which she felt attached to the light emanating from the picture through a lengthy cord attached to her toe, her chest and to the image. During the experience, she perceived she had to breathe in the healing energy, and emitted high-pitched sounds. She did and felt healed.

Translating to others how healing can occur and how she learned about it in altered states, induced by the mind and not drugs, is the subject matter of her autobiography. Rubin believes that healing is available to anyone if they believe it, desire it and focus on it.

Since then, Rubin has undertaken various studies into the brain and methods of healing which differ from Western systems, such as training with psychic surgeon Alex Orbito in the Philippines for one month in 1995. She was his assistant during examples of  “psychic healing.” She insists the procedure was void of any sleight-of-hand tricks and is a phenomenon of psychokinesis. In addition, Rubin has worked with bioenergetic medicine, acupuncture, magnetism, color, sound, Kirlian photography, homeopathy and more.

In her daily life, Rubin thinks about social issues, writes daily and draws images that surface from her fears, desires and hopes. She starts drawing not knowing where she is going until she has finished, discovering  what the image is about as strokes of pen begin to form an image.

For the girl who at age eight, from the sidewalk of the Via Venti Settembre saw the Allied Forces march through a newly-freed Rome at the end of World War II, space and time to work is all she needs.

For more information visit, or email And you can read Rubin’s blog at