Betsy Damon is committed to combining art with activism and she feels that her work must have an impact. In the 1970’s she founded an organization called No Limits for Women in the Arts. This national network of women artists, which is still in existence today, embraced the concept that artists and relationships create social and environmental change.
“Water is the foundation of life, the connective might of the universe.
Therefore sustaining the water systems must be the foundation
of planning and development.”
~ Betsy Damon
A change in direction for Damon occurred in 1985, when after a cross-country camping trip with her children, she 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, entitled “The Memory of Clean Water”, that brought her attention to the invisible destruction development was having on water sources.
Damon then created an organization called Keepers of the Waters in 1991 where she directed her passion to working with communities in order to oversee the caretaking of the earth’s most precious resource — water. According to Damon, “water is the foundation of life, the connective might of the universe. Therefore sustaining the water systems must be the foundation of planning and development.”
Damon’s involvement with communities and groups includes sculpture, workshops and teaching around the globe. In 1998 in China, she created the nation’s first public art event for the environment — most notably the Living Water Garden. This space is now a renowned public park and employs a natural water filtration system. Through the use of the artistic treatment system of ponds, filters and flowforms, it is possible to witness the process of actually cleaning the water.
“At a micro level, water seeks to maintain a rhythmical balance between the spherical form and the pull of gravity. It is at this edge of shaping the circle and the directional force of gravity that results in a spiraling form — the spiral of a river current or the structure of a bone or the walls of our heart.”
~ Besty Damon
Another project, Saving Living Systems, researches and honors water sites around the world that have sustained human life for centuries. The first project was the research of Tibetan sacred water sites. As the artist/eco design team member, Damon participated in the Trinity River Corridor Project which, when finished, will be the largest green infrastructure initiative in the U.S.
Damon has been studying the miracle of water for more than 27 years. Her passionate desire, through her artistic initiatives and activities, is to help bring an awakening to the fundamental and crucial purpose of water. She states that “at a micro level, water seeks to maintain a rhythmical balance between the spherical form and the pull of gravity. It is at this edge of shaping the circle and the directional force of gravity that results in a spiraling form — the spiral of a river current or the structure of a bone or the walls of our heart. As the spirals occur in differences of speed a vortex forms. It is in the vortex, the archetypal movement of water, that all life flows and the formative principles of living matter are produced”.
“Ecological design is not rocket science and (these days)
the biggest issue is people choosing to do it.”
~ Betsy Damon
It takes someone with Damon’s artistic vision to help us look at water differently. In her workshops she asks questions about what do people most care about. She does not teach people to design. She says that “ecological design is not rocket science and (these days) the biggest issue is people choosing to do it.” She feels that there is a basic creativity in every human being that has to be reclaimed. She asks “do you pay for a community to learn to harvest their own rainwater and become sustainable or have them continue to buy bottled water from another location?”
She knows that artists can have a profound influence in informing and engaging people in a new consciousness. To this end she has mentored scores of people around the globe helping people find their own personal vision.
Damon works on several projects simultaneously. She is collaborating with the MidAtlantic Regional Transition Hub (MATH) in the Rockaways, NY, which ultimately envisions an environmentally sustainable, integrated, and resilient area of seven states along the eastern seaboard. Damon is, in addition, consulting with the Global Peace Initiative of Women on plans for a river clean up out west.
Through her Keepers of the Waters program she welcomes community groups, families, nonprofit organizations and landscape firms to join the network of small and large projects that combine art, education and science to preserve, restore, recycle and remediate water. Some of the typical projects are imaginative and sculptural bioswale systems; stream bank restorations; designing functional wetlands sculpture gardens for city parks; and creating backyard rainwater catchment systems that blend with gardens.
Many eco artists, designers and educators have told her that she has inspired their careers with a sense of possibility.
To learn more about Betsy Damon visit http://www.keepersofthewaters.org