Tuesday, October 06, 2009

At Home in the Puget Sound Region

Seattle's Pier 66 and the Puget SoundThere have been many changes in my life in the past few months. I now live in the Seattle area, USA, with my father and husband, within bike or bus distance of my sisters, their lovely families, and our visiting Swiss friends. Wow! I lived in ths area after college, and in 2007 while launching Beauty of Water, so this is one of my homes.

It's been a joy to be here, but I deeply miss India and the people and places that were home to me there. I take heart in my plan to return for Waterwalk with Latha Kurien Rajeev and others in 2010.

Shortly after arriving to Washington, I had an experience that helped me feel I'm in the right place. I went to the Edmonds Art Walk and had the honor of meeting Carol Schillios. Since July 31st, Carol has been living in a tarp TENT on the ROOF of her all-volunteer run store, Fabric of Life, and it gets COLD here! Do check out her remarkable story! Within minutes of meeting and talking together, Carol suggested that we exhibit at her store the collaborative painting done at the Beauty of Water painting camp in Thrissur. Yes! I'll report back on this in time.

Joy Lynch of WSU Beach Watchers leading water-inspired art activitiesMeanwhile, the first annual Blue Festival, "celebrating wild and healthy oceans," was worth a trip downtown. On a sunny, crisp, Seattle day, this volunteer, Joy Lynch, of the WSU Beach Watchers, spent her time leading water-inspired art projects. There were many good people at the ambitious and successful event, ready to inform, inspire, and induct volunteers who share the intention of keeping the Puget Sound safe and healthy for all. Well done.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Rainbow Rainstick: A Collaborative Piece

Children with beautiful rainstick they collaboratively made in Emily Frost and Gena Rabinowitz's Summer Environmental Art Camp, photo courtesy of Gena RabinowitzThis summer these children collaboratively produced this stunning rainstick, which carries a lot of love and intention, and donated it to Beauty of Water!

Teachers Emily Frost and Gena Rabinowitz founded a unique environmentally focused art camp held in Oakland, California, which explored a different aspect of the environment each day. The young artists of the Rainbow Rainstick made the instrument at camp, and also collaboratively created a myth, downloadable here. Here are some words of reflection they offered:


Magical, Nature-filled,


Colorful, Collaboration – Fabulous!
Peaceful, Delicate


Emily Frost with Butterfly WingsI met Emily, shown here in butterfly wings, at Andrée Singer Thompson's Ecoart Matters class last May, and within minutes we both felt the charge around the idea of making rainsticks, which have a special magic.

That charge was felt halfway around the world as well. Beauty of Water Co-Lead Latha Kurien Rajeev and I had been gestating ideas for our yet-to-be-born Lucid installation, and we wanted to offer a multi-sensory experience of water. "Rainsticks!" Latha cried, and went on to explain how participants in the installation could create a symphony of the sound of rain. We both saw in our collective mind's eye a tree holding these musical instruments, and began imagining working with rainsticks from around the world. Soon long-time Beauty of Water supporter Diana Verhalen, with husband Brian, donated a rainstick, and then Lajwanti Waghray donated another, and we heard from people in several other places who are interested in a rainstick making journey...

Gena Rabinowitz in ThailandGena, shown here in the waters around Koh Tao, Thailand, is a photographer and former art teacher at Park Day School. She will be joining Latha later this year for a series of art activities in Kerala, India, including more rainstick making with youth.

Thank you, Gena, for providing this 22-image slideshow that gives glimpses into the process as well as stunning detail of the rainstick and other rainsticks the artists made!

If you would like to make rainsticks to donate to Beauty of Water, please drop us a line!


Friday, July 31, 2009

Delightfully Rainy Day at NISH

NISH Artists"I loved to feel the rain," said Subhash Viswan, a student in the first batch of the fine arts degree program at the National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH) in Trivandrum, after a day of making art on the theme of appreciation for water with Beauty of Water earlier this month.

His enthusiastic comments were translated by Degree Section Coordinator Shirly G., who invited Beauty of Water to co-create this learning experience. "I feel happy. We all feel happy!" Subhash continued.

NISH Artists"We really used our bodies, working with our bodies in a different way making art," commented another student during a reflective conversation after our activities. Also noted: "We started thinking different things. We started using our thinking processes."

We worked on campus, which is on the shores of Lake Akkulam. This news story that ran on July 10th in The Indian Express covers some of the details.

The group included students Tintu Vaghese, Abin Pious George, Shameel, Baby Vijaya, Anju Moy, K.S.Sarathchandran, Sharath B.P., Baiju B.J., Subhish Viswan, Radhika A., Indu P., Parvathy, Lekshmy, Tony Vimal, Naveena L.R., Merin Vimal, Rajimol P.R., Jaisymol, Jim J., Kishore Kumar, Anila M. Vijayan, Niyas M., Deepamol, Parvathy P.V., Priya, Retheesh, Rajalekshmi, and teachers Mohal Lal V. and Renitha R.R., who also got into the action, and may be seen working in the earth in this 27-image slideshow.

Visits from Beauty of Water co-lead Latha Kurien Rajeev and our Italian designer friend Annabella brought additional meaning to the day, as did a gift ceremony presided over by Executive Director of the school, Dr. K.N. Prvithran, who supported the program along with Founding Director G.Vijaya Ragavan.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

WE DID IT! Collaborative Painting at Triprayar

A quietly breath-taking spot on the Triprayar River near Thrissur, Kerala, India, was the site for a deeply gratifying experience for me as founding director of Beauty of Water. Ten painters, a mixture of amateur and professional, with yours truly included, painted one painting together on one canvas!

This Beauty of Water Painting Camp took place from June 26-28, 2009, and was graciously hosted by Udaysankar, whose ancestors have inhabited this spot for 400 years. Our theme was appreciation for water. We made solo paintings on this theme as well, and the individual paintings are quite lovely, too, as I see it.

This twenty image slideshow, which includes some photos provided by Udaysankar, taken by professional photographer and camp participant Imababu, give a sense of the camp experience. For those who read Malayalam language, here is a story from the Mangalam newspaper written by Gopinath that ran on July 3, 2009.

Beauty of Water Collaborative PaintingThe greatest thrill for me, though, and I know my colleagues were excited, too, was in working together on one large canvas. After brainstorming, encouragement from the more enthusiastic among us, and a few giggles, everyone agreed to give it a try. We discussed dividing the canvas into separate panels, but 20-year-old Sujeendran and I convinced the group that to do so would nearly be the same as making solo works. Rather than creating a patchwork painting, we went for a blended image.

Our starting concept was to make continuous waves, with no set boundaries as to who would paint where, and see what happened. Even with this concept established, the first thing to appear on the canvas was a light blue sky, a sign that collective creativity will bring surprises. Slowly people joined in, one by one or in small groups, while others watched with keen interest, and implicit license to observe each other's artistic processes.

I have been imagining a collaborative fine art project like this for years. Beauty of Water has evolved to focus less on artifacts and more on artistic processes, and has always aimed to facilitate collaborative artmaking on the theme of appreciation for water. To see it happen on a canvas was dazzling.

Special thanks go to Baiju Laxman, shown in the entry below, for actualizing this camp with gusto. Painting camp participants included our host Udaysankar, to whom we also owe great gratitude, Rajesh K, Kumaradaz (painter of one of the longest paintings in the world, located in Kovalam), Sujeendran C, Radhakrishnan with his daughter Remya and wife Remani, Baiju Laxman, Valsan PC, Imababu and Liza Behrendt.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Return to the Mothership

Hello from Trivandrum! I am in my last weeks in Kerala, India, now drawing my face-to-face involvement to a close for this chapter in the evolution of Beauty of Water. While I expect to return for some awesome upcoming programs, it's time to recharge my batteries in the USA, and support ongoing developments here from afar.

The amazing Latha Kurien Rajeev is continuing with several programs in Kerala including Waterwalk, an art journey inspired by talks between Latha and JohnyML which will take place along the Bharathapuzha River, the Watermark exhibition, a rainstick making and sharing project, and the visit of an eminent ecoartist we admire. What a thrill!

Baiju LaxmanNext weekend Beauty of Water is conducting a small group, three-day painting camp at the Triprayar River with leadership by painter Baiju Laxman, shown here. And before I depart here in mid-July I will lead a 2-day program that includes site specific art making at the National Institute of Speech and Hearing. Please watch for photos and stories.

While I get settled in the USA and these programs continue, beloved Harachi Birgit Stein, shown below with a recent sculpture, is weaving together several Beauty of Water related activities in Austria.
Harachi Birgit Stein Can you help? We are eager to generate support for her as she meets on-the-ground challenges of bringing new ideas into manifest form. Contact us if you can assist Harachi in any way. You can also donate online and let me know it's for Austria programs. Thank you!

This blog entry was minimally edited on June 27, 2009.

Beauty of Water Website

Monday, May 18, 2009

California as Inspiration

I had the pleasure of a brief visit to the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this month, where I met with inspiring people like Askia White, pictured here. Askia is working on a home-use energy collector combining systems of rain catchment, gravitational force of flowing water, solar, and wind technologies in one artistic sculpture you can put in your yard. Wow! Wow! Wow!

Askia is part of Andrée Singer Thompson's EcoArt Matters class offered through Laney College in Oakland. Some of the extraordinary people in and associated with this course that I met include Alida, Askia, Barbara, Christina, Emily, Isabel, Kathryn, Laura, Molly, Pam, Pat, Susan, Tina (plus the human-sized bee she birthed), Tracy, and others.

Their "ART ROOTS HERE: A recession remedy art exhibit" which runs through June 14th at Big Daddy's Complete Rejuvenating Community Garden in Emeryville (an amazing space curated by Vickie Jo Sowell) is well worth a visit. Here is a 16-image slideshow that admittedly provides more views of the radiant people than the art. You'll just have to go see the show yourself to partake! I'll post again about these artists because they are making RAINSTICKS... soon!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Welcome, Krishna Mayur

Beauty of Water welcomes our new publicist and planner, Krishna Mayur from Hyderabad. A professional business consultant with specialty in public relations and communication, he also promotes community events such as blood donations and recycling programs.

Krishna Mayur is passionate about the environment, especially water. He has already come up with immediately actionable ideas for focusing appreciation on water through artistic expression. We are thrilled to have his collaboration in Beauty of Water!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Pongala Festival

Today is Pongala, an annual, sacred festival held in Trivandrum to honor the Goddess. At 5:30am I arose and walked 5k to the home of dear friends Susan and Dr. Raj, who live near Attukal Temple, locus of the event. Most of the 2 million or more women attending, mainly Keralite Hindus, were already in preparation.

Here are two short videos with ambient sound taken on my walk home at 10:00am. The first shows women getting water used in cooking, and the second, taken across from where I live, shows lighting of fires, which happens at an auspicious time. Women line the streets beyond what the eye can see; men stay indoors or serve the devotees in some capacity while they make delicious, sweet, porridge-like payasam.

Monday, March 02, 2009


  • I am deep in the throes of grant proposal writing, please wish us luck!
  • A very exciting art installation called Lucid has been conceived by Latha Kurien Rajeev and me, with influences and input from many. More on this one day soon!
  • There are also signs of growth for Watermark, a show of solo works and performance on the theme of appreciation for water.
  • In January I started my journey toward a research-based PhD from the School of Arts and Humanities at Oxford Brookes University, under Shelley Sacks of the Social Sculpture Research Unit.
  • It's unseasonably hot in Trivandrum and throughout Kerala! Water is on everybody's minds...
Peace to all.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Primary Water

Stanley Krippner, PhD, of Saybrooke Graduate School and Research Center, has been sending me important articles about water for more than a year, for which I am grateful. It is time to come out of the closet with this GOOD NEWS, albeit controversial, enquiry about water. Please check out this paper about primary water by Robert Gourlay of the environmental consulting business called the Environmental Research & Information Consortium or ERIC. It's not only applicable in Australia.

Beauty of Water Curriculum 01

Beauty of Water has published a curriculum related to the course we offered through Raja Ravi Varma College of Fine Arts. You may download the curriculum here.

If you use this curriculum please drop us a line and tell us about it! The email address to which to send your feedback is in the curriculum document itself. We are also interested in hearing about similar courses, so share your stories please.

Each of the following people played an important role in creating the first course based on this curriculum: N.N. Rimzon, Shijo Jacob, A.P. Sunil, Amal M., Aneesh V., Manjunath K.P., Pavel Suresh, Prajeesh P.P., Shijeesh K. and Shyne K. Antony Caral and his family, V. Sasikumar and Preeti Joseph... thanks all!