Forty years ago, Betsy Damon stepped outside her traditional art training and carved a unique path to work with the environment, communities, science and art. She began looking to her inner consciousness as a source of inspiration which initiated her public engagement, starting with gritty art performances on the New York City streets. 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, after a cross-country camping trip with her children, Betsy 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 twenty-seven years later she would still be deeply entrenched.
Beginning with the creation of Keepers of the Waters in 1991, Betsy 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/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, Betsy continues her passion.
Contributions to Humans & Nature:
- The People’s Water
A response to “What are our moral and civic responsibilities to water?” Also published in Minding Nature’s September 2017, Volume 10, Number 3 issue.
- A Water Toolkit
From Minding Nature’s September 2017, Volume 10, Number 3 issue.
- Keepers of the Waters
Discover projects developed by an extraordinary, interdisciplinary group of people working for the understanding and remediation of living water systems.
Photo Credit: James Lindsay