December 14, 2018
January Art Show: Betsy McCall

In the City Center Art Lounge, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, 94102
Reception: Friday, January 4, 7:30 – 9 pm

Artist’s Statement

Studio practice. Contemplative practice. The dedication and rigorous rhythms demanded by both disciplines inspire my work, which explores repetition, breath, and liquid as a space of transformation. Informed by my experience as one who meditates daily, my work activates repetition and illuminates pattern.

In 2008, I moved to Italy to lay the foundation for a monumental life-as-artwork: the Art Monastery. Together with a team of collaborators, I reanimated historic monasteries throughout Italy (Calvi dell—Umbria, Caramanico Terme, Labro, and Lecce) into international arts production centers. In 2016, we made the transition to the USA and today the Art Monastery is located in a farmhouse in Vermont. The vision of the project is to establish a long-term community that applies the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making.

My time immersed in the Art Monastery has informed the daily link between my studio and contemplative practices. My time at Green Gulch has also deeply affected me, not the least of which is that the titles of most of the works in this show find their origins in the sutras and chants of the morning liturgy. Practice is a commitment, repetitive and prolonged, a disciplined and sustained effort that yields perspectives that are undiscoverable any other way. Regardless of the stated goal, practice in itself reshapes the practitioner over time, whether gradually or through bursts of inspiration and insight. By engaging the repetitive rhythms of practice, my work also aims to reshape my life as an artist.


Betsy McCall, garnering degrees from Yale University and San Francisco Art Institute, brings her experience as a visual artist, social sculptor, competitive synchronized swimmer, and founder of the Art Monastery to inform her retreat-hosting. Betsy’s meditative “breath portraits,” large-scale pattern-based paintings, have been exhibited from San Francisco and New York to Amsterdam and Rome. In 2008 she co-founded the Art Monastery, an international arts organization dedicated to applying the collaborative and intentional “social sculpture” of monastic life to art-making and creativity. For the last decade, Betsy has been facilitating silent meditation retreats aimed at fanning the creative flame, which draw on eastern and western monastic philosophies, shamanic practices, and the exuberance of her own heartfire. In 2013 she co-founded the International Partnership for Transformative Learning in Europe and published a book, “Hosting Transformation: Stories from the Edge of Changemaking.” In 2015 she published a fully illustrated workbook, “Live Your Dream: Start Here. Start Now.” Her online portfolio is

From 2014 to 2018, Betsy split her time between Green Gulch Farm / Green Dragon Zen Temple and Art Monastery Vermont. She currently lives at Art Monastery Vermont full time.