February 28, 2022
This week we recognize the work of artist Betsy Damon.
"Our world’s living systems are endlessly exciting and constantly humbling in their complexity. My skills as an artist allow me to center water as the foundation to all life. In my journey to understand water, my partner is science and my driving purpose is curiosity. I look through the mist to examine the vast expanse of interconnected living systems that contains you and me."
In 1985, after a cross-country camping trip with her children, Damon found herself reconnected to the primal elements of the natural world --the sound of wind, the flow of water, the forest, the rain. This initiated the casting of a 250-foot dry riverbed, "The Memory of Clean Water," which brought her attention to the invisible destruction that development was having on water sources. In the early evening, while casting the riverbed, Betsy looked up to realize that the stones of the riverbed were patterned like the stars of the sky, that everywhere were the patterns of water. She committed herself to learning everything about water, little did she know that 27 years later she would still be deeply entrenched.
Beginning with the creation of Keepers of the Waters in 1991, Damon has continued to work towards creating community-based models of water stewardship. Her work includes sculpture, teaching, lectures, and workshops. In China, she created the nation's first public art event for the environment, and most notably the Living Water Garden, a world-renowned public park and natural water filtration model. In the US, she is continuously working with communities and grassroots groups, as well as completing art and design commissions.
Betsy Damon's inspiration comes from extensive research of sacred water sites, and her curiosity for the biology and earth sciences that compose living systems. Always seeking new ways to articulate the complexity of water and engage communities in caring for this precious resource, Damon continues her passion.
Betsy Damon is the founder and director of Keepers of the Water, a nonprofit organization that encourages art, science and community projects for the understanding and remediation of living water systems. Forty years ago, Damon stepped outside her traditional art training and carved a unique path to work with the environment, communities, science and art. She was engaged in the women's movement of the 1970s, where she founded No Limits for Women Artists, a network to join and support female artists. In 1985, while making a cast of a dry riverbed in Castle Valley, Utah, she decided to devote the rest of her artistic life to water. She started Keepers of the Waters in 1991 with the support of the Hubert Humphrey Institute. Damon received an MFA from Columbia University in 1966. www.betsydamon.com www.keepersofthewater.org
Featured Images (Top to Bottom): ©Betsy Damon, "Mist Rising," "A Memory of Clean Water" (1985), "Living Water Garden" (1998), "Principles of Water" (2019), "Sounds of Water" (2004).