[NOTE: This is the first installment of a new series, Partnership Pairings, in which a local creative uses art to bring a new perspective to an organization sponsored by OrthoCarolina.]
“Both art and nature stir emotion. We see people who are otherwise calm, cool and collected get very angry when they hear about folks polluting our water, and I think similarly, people are sometimes moved by art in ways they don’t expect.” — John Searby, Catawba Riverkeeper
Have you ever celebrated National Water Monitoring Day? Well, Saturday (Sept. 18) is your chance to embrace a new tradition. But, you won’t be alone.
For Catawba Riverkeeper, a local nonprofit, every day is water monitoring day. That may not seem sexy, but the organization wants you to know that water flows through every aspect of our lives in the Carolinas … and our health is tied to the health of our waterways.
The organization was founded in 1997 “to preserve and protect the waters of the Catawba-Wateree River Basin.”
Executive Director John Searby knows that many people find it hard to see the role they can play in caring for the environment. He and his staff offer a variety of ways (both straightforward and subtle) to make Charlotte-area residents fall in love with the water around us: kayaking programs, campouts, field trips and monthly “Jam at the Dam” concerts at the organization’s Boathouse in McAdenville.
So, we thought we’d help Searby’s mission of making the Catawba-Wateree come alive by pairing him with dynamic visual artist DeNeer Davis.
Stirring emotion through art and nature
Pairing a nature conservationist with an artist who wields spray paint like a ninja may not make sense on the surface, but Searby and Davis took to each other like a duck to … well, you know the rest.
Davis describes her visual style as “Abstract. Graffiti. Energetic. Bright. Loving. Uplifting. Positive.” That sounds a lot like Searby’s style.
“DeNeer was super easy to work with,” he said. “She took the time to come out to The Boathouse on the banks of the South Fork River and get to know our organization a bit and get a sense of our brand and our vibe.”
After touring the Catawba Riverkeeper facilities, Davis gravitated toward their collection of paddles – kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard. Eventually, she chose two canoe paddles as her canvases, painting an original work on both.
“My inspiration came after talking to John,” said Davis. “The water services 1 million users in the city of Charlotte. Some river streams we ride over on a daily basis lead to one source. One source, one love!”
Painting a paddle may have been a first for Davis, but it doesn’t sound like it’ll be the last. “For me, this project was an exciting adventure,” said Davis. ”I truly enjoyed the process.”
Seaby, too, was taken by what turned out to be a natural collaboration.
“Both art and nature stir emotion,” he said. “We see people who are otherwise calm, cool and collected get very angry when they hear about folks polluting our water, and I think similarly, people are sometimes moved by art in ways they don’t expect.”
“At the end of the day, both are representations of creativity — the creativity of the natural world to adapt and survive and the creativity of an individual or group developing a work of art.”
It’s your river to enjoy and protect
If you’re looking for a way to be moved by the river like Davis was, Catawba Riverkeeper is ready for you.
“I want people to know that this is THEIR RIVER — the lakes, creeks, streams, river — all of it belongs to the people,” said Searby. ” We are a membership-based organization. People who are passionate about protecting their water can get involved.”
Searby notes that there are many ways you can support their work:
“When people are ready, they can get their hands dirty and get their feet wet (literally) and join us for a clean-up or a stream restoration project.” They can:
- Volunteer in cleaning up or restoring their waters
- Engage with their waters in a first-hand way by kayaking with us
- Learn more about the local water through an educational program
- Fight to protect the water by participating in an action alert or attending a public meeting to speak out
“At the end of the day, our river needs all of us to protect her,” said Searby.
Paddle Further Down a River of Info
Davis is currently working on projects for the Charlotte Rescue Mission and Charlotte Hornets.
- IG: www.instagram.com/neerperfection
- TW: twitter.com/neerperfection
- WEB: www.neerperfection.bigcartel.com
The Partnership Pairing series is powered by OrthoCarolina.
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